The new Republican health care plan keeps parts of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, for members of Congress while erasing those same protections for citizens.
Republicans added an amendment to their proposal, the American Health Care Act, nicknamed Trumpcare, that exempts members of Congress and their staffs from insurance companies charging higher premium prices based on a person's pre-existing conditions, reports The Hill. The plan also allows insurance companies to end essential health plan benefits including coverage for mental health and prescription drugs.
Under Trumpcare, states would apply for waivers to allow insurance companies to enact these types of profit-driven actions.
Health law professor Timothy Jost noted the special treatment exemption for members of Congress and their staff in Health Affairs Blog:
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Waivers would be automatically approved by [Department of Health and Human Services] unless they were disapproved within 60 days for noncompliance with the requirements of the statute...
Essentially, any state that wanted a waiver would get one. The waivers would not apply to CO-OPs or multi-state plans or to the Basic Health program, 1332 state innovation waivers, the section of the ACA that allows sale of insurance across state lines through interstate compacts, or the provision that requires members of Congress to purchase coverage through the exchanges.
Members of Congress are not going to lose essential health benefits or be subject to health status underwriting.
After news of the special treatment for Congress and their members of staff got out, Democrats slammed Republicans for not taking the same cuts that the American public would, notes The Hill.
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Leslie Dach, director of the Protect Our Care Campaign, said: "The best evidence yet that the new GOP repeal plan is a disaster for people’s health care is that the GOP exempted members of Congress from living under it."
Republican Rep. Thomas MacArthur of New Jersey is reportedly trying to change the bill with the GOP leadership. MacArthur helped write the new bill with Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
It's not clear who added the amendment to protect Congress and their staff members.
An unidentified GOP aide told The Hill that the Senate Budget Committee added the special treatment to the new amendment, but unidentified GOP Senate sources said it was not the committee.
Camille Gallow, a spokeswoman for MacArthur, echoed the opponents of Trumpcare in a statement:
Congressman MacArthur does not believe Members of Congress or their staff should receive special treatment and is working with House Leadership to make absolutely clear that Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same rules, provisions, and protections as all other Americans.