U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Chairman of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, today announced he is holding the nomination of Earl Gay to be Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
“OPM created the Washington Exemption from Obamacare, and they still haven’t answered questions about how and why,” Vitter said. “Once they answer some specific questions about why they think Congress is entitled to a special exemption from Obamacare, I’ll release the hold.”
Before the official open enrollment period for Obamacare, OPM made a decision allowing the government to continue making the employer contribution available to the health plans of Members of Congress and staff. It was widely reported in 2013 that OPM was in deliberations with Congress and officials in the White House, including the President, over the specifics of this rule.
Vitter sent a letter to OPM on October 9, 2013 requesting them to release all correspondence they had with the Administration, Members of Congress, and their staffs related to their final Obamacare rule that allowed Congress to receive their employer contribution and allowed for some Congressional staff to avoid Obamacare all together. Vitter asked for the information by October 18, 2013, but has still not received a response from OPM.
Vitter has been pushing legislation that would reverse and clarify the OPM decision by requiring all Members of Congress, the President, Vice President, and all political appointees in the Administration to purchase their health insurance through the Obamacare Exchange without the help of taxpayer-funded subsidies. Congressional staff would be prohibited from receiving any contribution greater than what they would receive if they were not employed by a congressional office.
Last week, on February 4, 2015, Vitter launched a new investigation into how the Washington Obamacare Exemption was first implemented. Vitter is calling on the District of Columbia Health Benefits Exchange (DCHBE) and financial clerks from both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to come forward with information regarding their qualification of the United States Congress as a “small business.”