Congress may create the laws, but it doesn’t have to follow them. When politicians on both sides of the aisle expressed fear over the possibility of increased health care costs from Obamacare, the president acted swiftly to shift any additional expenses away from elected officials and directly onto the taxpayers.
Washington leaders have been complaining for months that their staffers may flee once they become forced to pay higher health insurance premiums. Some referred to the potential mass exodus as a “brain drain.” Many voted for the Affordable Care Act themselves, but now view the law as unfair when it applies to them.
The president met with congressional Democrats on Thursday to hear their concerns over premium hikes, according to The Blaze, and reportedly assured them that he was “on it.” The next morning, Politico reported that the Office of Personnel Management is set to rule that the government may continue subsidizing health care costs for congressional members as well as their aides.
Among the health care act’s original provisions was a mandate that members of Congress use plans outlined by the law or provided by an insurance exchange program. There was no mention on whether the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which used to shoulder almost 75 percent of costs, could contribute toward premiums. Without such contributions, payments would have spiked by thousands of dollars.
Although insurance premiums are set to go up across the country, employees with more-expensive “Cadillac” coverage, which includes elected officials and their staff, will experience the greatest cost increases to pay for their enhanced benefits.
The quick fix for Congress by the Office of Personnel Management was reportedly a more-appealing alternative to legislative action because Republicans, even though they wanted assistance, would likely have used such regulation against Democrats in the future. Even as Politico reported the latest ruling on Thursday, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted “Outrageous exemption for Congress.”
In a statement delivered Thursday night, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) omitted any information of government assistance for elected officials, writing, “Members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in health marketplaces as the Affordable Care Act requires.”