Is Congress trying to exempt itself from Obamacare?

Confusion over the issue will only stoke public concerns over the president's signature achievement.

By Jonathan Berr Apr 25, 2013 6:13PM
Image: Dollar bills floating over U.S. Capitol © CorbisAre members of Congress trying to exempt themselves from a key part of Obamacare? 

Politico says "yes" and The Washington Post's Ezra Klein says "no." Confusion over the controversial issue will only stoke the public's unease about the key accomplishment of the Obama Administration.

According to Politico, leaders in Congress are holding "high-level" confidential talks about exempting themselves and their aides from joining the health care exchange, those government-regulated marketplaces for insurance plans they are required to join under Obamacare.

The stakes couldn't be higher, according to the website. If lawmakers exempt themselves, "they risk being dubbed hypocrites by their political rivals and the American public," Politico notes in what may be the understatement of the year.

There is a worry that the exchange will saddle staffers, especially younger ones who don't command large salaries, with unaffordable health care costs. Older staffers might leave, creating a "brain drain" on Capitol Hill. Even some members of Congress, particularly those who aren't wealthy, are worried, Politico notes.

As Klein explains in The Washington Post, this was never supposed to happen. During the debate over Obamacare, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed the amendment forcing members of Congress and their staffs into the exchanges to embarrass Democrats. It didn't work.
"In a bit of jujitsu of which they were inordinately proud, Democrats instead embraced the amendment and added it to the law," Klein writes.

Confused? There's more.

It turns out that the Office of Personnel Management has the final say on which employees may have to go on the exchanges and hasn't made a decision yet. Some in Congress don't think there is going to be a problem, as Klein notes.

The Post quotes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as categorically denying the Politico story, saying: "There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or Congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care."

Is this a tempest in a teapot? Maybe.  

One thing's for sure: The fights over Obamacare are far from over.

--Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr

More on moneyNOW

Apr 25, 2013 6:56PM

How about US citizens get the same healthcare as congress does
Apr 25, 2013 6:58PM

Next they will say they are exempt from insider trading laws. Oh wait, THEY ALREADY ARE
Apr 25, 2013 6:56PM
I support Drug tests for politicians. If they use drugs they should be kicked out
Apr 25, 2013 7:21PM
Those crooked bastards better be under the same plan as us or they are in line for treason against the USA. If its not good for them then they better not vote it in for the public!!!
Apr 25, 2013 7:26PM

A "brain drain" on Capitol Hill?  My God we could stand to loose 3/4 of those numb skulls up there!!

Maybe someone with COMMON SENSE will take their place!!

Apr 25, 2013 6:47PM
The U.S. gooberments afraid they might lose brain drain?  When did D.C. have a brain to drain?
Apr 25, 2013 6:59PM
the only recourse we have is to vote them all out. it don't help to bitch about them.
Apr 26, 2013 12:22AM
Easy solution.  Vote them out of office.  
Apr 26, 2013 6:18AM
Pretty sure America is ready to exempt itself from Congress. These are the lowest scum of of the Earth any nation has had to endure, Fire them all... or worse.
Apr 25, 2013 9:03PM
How many people believe that Congress and Obama will ever be under the same insurance rules they apply to the rest of us? For those that believe that, please come to my seaside resort in Arizona and  take a tour of the ocean front/view properties for sale.
Apr 25, 2013 8:41PM

You’re be a fool for thinking these clowns are looking out for you or anyone else who isn’t part of their leftist political clique. Their using you and your family and everyone else so they can cling to their power.

 Do we tax ourselves to bankruptcy to pay the Political Class to control our lives?

Apr 25, 2013 6:43PM
Why doesnt this surprise me let us force it on the public but not ourselves.  And the gooberment wonders why if it was on fire the people wouldnt piss on it to save it.
Apr 25, 2013 10:41PM
Congress is sticking their tongues out again at you little people. They know your wimps.
Apr 26, 2013 6:47AM
If Congress does not want it for themselfves. What made them think the American public wanted it when they passed the law.
Apr 25, 2013 8:34PM

Alright "sheeple".. Feinstein exempts businesses in her little corner of the world from this pos legislation.. Congressional employees "can't afford" it and need to be exempted, BUT,,let's let them RAM it down the  throats of the rest of the country! People who are against it understand it means HIGHER health care costs,not less.. People who support it think they get FREE health care or have a naive impression that this is the answer to escalating health care costs. Do they not read anything? Do they not look for the answers by doing their own homework on the

issue? Probably not because sunshine. lollipops and rainbows are just easier to believe in.

 Do they not know or speak with any small business owners? I have not met one who plans on hiring or expansion,due to the costs and bureaucracy of this legislation. Legislative paperwork too large for anyone to actually just pass it. And every day you read about the massive  layoffs and cutbacks due to the BIGGEST LIE EVER TOLD.

Apr 25, 2013 10:05PM
The republicans and democrats have a bipartisan agreement on obamascam insurance, conjured up in the middle of the night, where thieves do their dirty work. Is someone supposed to be surprised? There's not two cents difference between a typical democrat and a republican, but there is a fitting description, "politician", yes, they have a bipartisan agreement on the internet tax,  they have a bipartisan agreement on their retirement and perks and on and on. That's exactly why this country is in the shape it is in. It's called status quo, and why has the Tea party has been branded as radical, because they are, compared to the cock roaches we now have scurrying around DC. they're for smaller government, lower taxes, conservative values and freedom from bulls#*t regulations, the thing DC just can't get enough of, everything the republicans say they're for until it comes down to brass tacks. How can we expect them to fight for a better America, dems and repubs are in the same ditch, digging the same hole and pointing fingers at each other because it is getting deeper. We need to clean house and by my count, just about as many republicans need to go as democrats, and that's just about all of them.
Apr 25, 2013 7:59PM
Tantamount to voting one's self straight the hell OUT OF OFFICE.

Proof positive the congressional leadership consists primarily of syphilitic morons.
Apr 25, 2013 11:02PM
Obamacare will hurt me. My employer will have to pay for me when they do not now. I am a temp employee who gets just about 40 hours aweek. My employer has a limited budget and I will lose hours. Congress needs to do what they are making everyone eles do. Time to get rid of them and start over with people that will work with each other and not worry about what party they are from. We are all having to pay the price for people that won't do what is best for the country.
Apr 25, 2013 7:09PM
The Affordable care act hurt small business who will now be forced to provide health insurance. Instead of forcing companies to take on more costs we should take healthcare away from employers and create state and federal insurance pools. This would lower costs to US businesses and make them more competitive in the global economy,
Apr 26, 2013 8:14AM
Why would congress hold themselves to the same idiotic standards that was forced on the American public?
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