While Trump and the GOP have consistently claimed Obamacare is a disaster, their latest attempt to get rid of Obama's signature piece of legislation includes one amazing provision that lays bare their mind boggling hypocrisy: they will be exempted from their own plan. Reported Sarah Kliff at Vox:
House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.
The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on preexisting conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.
Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), who authored this amendment, confirmed this was the case: Members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these Obamacare regulations.
One of the great things about Obamacare was that it required members of Congress to buy coverage through the same marketplaces American citizens had to, eliminating the long held tradition of the political classes having access to better, more affordable health care than everyone else dependent on the whims of the deregulated insurance industry. But House Republicans now want to allow states to get rid of key Obamacare provisions, like the ban on preexisting conditions, only not for themselves. As Kliff reports:
If congressional aides lived in a state that decided to waive these protections, the aides who were sick could presumably be vulnerable to higher premiums than the aides who are healthy. Their benefits package could get skimpier as Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement may no longer apply either.
This apparently does not sound appealing, because the Republican amendment includes the members of Congress and their staff as a protected group who cannot be affected by this amendment’s terms.
After a barrage of criticism, the New Jersey Rep. Tom McArthur, who proposed the amendment, announced that he didn't actually insert the exemptions and will be working to remove them. Here was the statement released by his office:
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.
According to an aide to McArthur who spoke to Vox, "The provision was inserted at the request of the Senate Budget Committee, in order to comply with the rules of Senate reconciliation." However, this turns out to be a steaming pile of nonsense, as an aide with the Senate Budget Committee categorically denied having anything to do with the new provision:
“We did not write it, did not draft it, and did not add it,” the aide said. While the Senate Budget Committee has been advising House Republicans on some technical provisions in their bill, the aide said they were not making any policy suggestions – including this Congressional exemption.
In other words, House Republicans tried to take vital health care provisions in their insurance away from average Americans while preserving them for themselves, got caught and then lied through their teeth about it.