Frequently Searched

Force Congress to live by same set of healthcare rules

September 12, 2017

Congress is at an impasse when it comes to addressing the long-overdue issue of how to best move forward on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. For all the finger-pointing and recriminations around why the most recent effort to partially repeal and replace the program failed, there may be a simple solution to quickly bring lawmakers back to the table: Force members of Congress and their staffs to get their health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, as the law intended.

It’s a little-known fact that the ACA calls on members and their staffs to join the Obamacare individual health insurance exchanges, as Heather Higgins of Independent Women’s Voice wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week. The Obama administration unilaterally changed the law when it allowed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to issue rules allowing members and their staffs the option of enrolling in the small business insurance exchange which is supposed to serve small employers.

Because of the special OPM rule, lawmakers enrolled in the small business exchange, which was supposed to be restricted to employers with 50 or fewer employees, as a way of getting around the law. Had lawmakers and their staffers been forced into the individual health insurance exchanges as the law intended, they would not be able to continue to receive subsidies that pay for much of their health insurance premiums.

Even prior to the ACA, members have enjoyed other long-standing healthcare perks. For an annual fee, lawmakers may receive care from the attending physician to Congress, conveniently located in the Capitol. They may also obtain care at military hospitals. Apparently, those perks were not sufficient to abide by the letter and spirit of the ACA.

Higgins is calling on President Trump to reverse the OPM rule and force Congress’ hand. She explains that “any continued failure to reform health care means members of Congress and their staff would suffer under the current system. If the president does this, he’d have huge negotiating leverage. He would align the interests of the ruling class with those of his voters, forcing Congress to act. He might even get some Democratic votes.”

With some notable exceptions, most congressional lawmakers and their staffers have been insulated from the soaring costs of the ACA. Meanwhile, premiums in the ACA exchange have, on average, doubled since the ACA was implemented. That is in addition to large increases in deductibles and co-pays. Premiums for the 2018 plan year are estimated to increase by another 20 percent.

Reversing the OPM policy would send a very strong message to the lawmakers who supposedly represent us and impose laws that we must live by: If it is good enough for the American people, then it is good enough for the people who work for them.



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.