Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How to force Congress to pass healthcare reform quickly

The Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 - aka ObamaCare - specifically required members of Congress and their staff to buy health insurance the same way as all us mere mortals (Chapter 1312). But Congress and President Obama played dirty.

If Congress Members and their staff had to play by the same rules as we do, they may have forced ObamaCare changes before Obama left office. That would have been fun to watch.

So here's how to get Congress to act now, quickly, in haste, to reform ObamaCare. President Trump should immediately rescind the regulation that changed the intent of Chapter 1312 of ObamaCare.

Here's what I'm talking about.

While millions of Americans struggled with health insurance premium spikes of 150 percent or more since the ACA launched, members of Congress and their staffers received a sweat deal. You don't have to trust me on this. Read the most recent version of the final Office of Management and Budget rule by clicking here. Dated January 13, 2017, this is what it says.

If you are a member of Congress or an employee of a member of Congress, and your member of Congress certifies that you work for him or her, and choose to be enrolled as if you are working for a small employer, then you get a juicy benefit. This is it. You get to choose a Gold level health plan (how many of you can afford a Gold plan) from the Washington DC insurance exchange and we the taxpayers will subsidize up to 75 percent of your premium.

I would agree with you if you believe government employees should have access to health insurance. But not in contradiction to the law -specifically ObamaCare.

Here is what the OMB said about the language of the law.
  • "...the Act included clear and unambiguous language providing that all Members of Congress and congressional staff employed by the official office of a Member of Congress be subject to the terms of Section 1312 regardless of their dates of employment. Thus, the final rule implements Section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act as written." (Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 191, page 60653)
OMB then went on to say that although the law is clear about it, we believe these good people fall under a different section of the law. OMB therefore determined that in their view, a Congress Member, along with his or her staff members, could be considered the same as employees of a small business and therefore, have access to the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

Congress created SHOP to benefit very small employers, not Congressional office employees. And SHOP enrollees are assumed to be employed in the same state as their employer, not spread all across the county.

Now don't get me wrong. I have sympathy for the thousands of great employees working for members of Congress, and it's okay with me that they get a health benefit from employment. But it is not okay with me that President Obama's OMB ignored the law and stretched it beyond belief to tamp down anger among the very members of Congress who passed the law in the first place!

So, contact President Trump's office and tell him that the very next rule he needs to roll back is the one that shielded Congress Members and their staffers from the real world of health insurance, like the rest of us. If Pres. Trump threatens to do this, it will get Congress to the table in a hurry to reform ObamaCare now.