U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, today sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regarding the Agency’s rule that allows Congress to obtain health insurance benefits on the District of Columbia Health Benefits Exchange Authority’s (DCHBEA) small business exchange.
“In the spirit of Sunshine Week, I urge OPM to stand behind its rule – which allows Congress to participate in Obamacare as a small business – and share its reasoning and thought process with Congress and the American public,” said Vitter. “Clearly, the public comments aren’t supportive of the Washington Obamacare Exemption, so I want to know who within OPM pushed this unfair rule through the drafting and implementation process.”
In 2013, OPM issued a rule allowing Congress to purchase health insurance through the small business exchange with the help of taxpayer-funded subsidies. Today’s letter marks Vitter’s fourth request for the communications and documents related to OPM’s issuing of the rule. As of today, OPM has not yet provided any relevant information in response to Vitter’s request.
In OPM’s recent letter to Vitter, they provided public comments to the Washington Obamacare Exemption. Below are a few excerpts:
• “More than a year ago I wrote to both our Senators asking if Members of Congress would be subject to Obamacare, the same as the rest of us. They both replied that they would… Now I find out that Members of Congress quietly exempted themselves and their staff from the rigors of Obamacare because it would constitute a pay cut…No kidding. How do they think it affects everybody else? Did they foresee the cut in hours from full-time to part-time that people are experiencing so that employers can avoid penalties under Obamacare? If they had bothered to read this thing they crammed down our throats, they would have known this from the beginning.”
• “I am tired of government officials voting to give themselves every benefit that is available to man. I do not get the benefits and do not get a chance to vote to get the benefits. I want government employees to put up with the same [rules] that they are imposing on the rest of us. They must take government health care and they must pay for it like the rest of the people in this country. There is not a ruling class in this country. People in government can carry their own weight.”
• “All working individuals are required to have health insurance once the law goes into effect. Congressional staff and members of Congress should be required to obtain their insurance via the same method required for “regular” Americans and not be provided special treatment that is being applied via this rule by the OPM. I’m sorry if it appears that the cost will go up for the purchase of this insurance via the exchanges. This is the same issue “regular” workers in America must deal with—Why should members of Congress and their staff have a different process than the rest of America??!! Live by the same laws we all do!”
• “I am very disturbed to see that language is being used to make Congress and their staff exempt from Obamacare. If Obamacare is good for the country, then it should be good for Congress and their staff. That the Office of Personnel Management should be proposing a rule to allow Congress to sidestep the law is offensive to me. If the law is bad then it should be repealed, as I believe it should be. Since the law says that all Members of Congress and their staff must enter the government exchanges to purchase coverage, then they should follow the law. Any maneuvering around the law to make exceptions would be illegal and thus wrong or inappropriate to do.”
More public comments on the OPM rule can be found here.
Vitter has been investigating how the Washington Obamacare Exemption was first implemented. Click here to read more.