Media have falsely claimed President Obama, members of his administration, and certain congressional staff are "exempt" from the recently enacted health care bill. In fact, the bill subjects the White House, members of Congress, and their staffs to the same reforms and requirements as the rest of the American people.
White House, Congress, and federal employees are subject to same health care reforms applied to American people
White House, Congress required to carry health insurance like everyone else. Starting in 2014, Americans will be required to have minimum health insurance coverage, with exemptions for certain people with religious objections or the inability to afford coverage. The bill does not exempt government employees such as leaders and staffers at the White House and Congress.
Insurers covering government workers will be subject to insurance regulations. The insurers participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, through which federal workers obtain health coverage, are not exempt from the regulations imposed by the bill on insurers. These regulations include prohibitions on lifetime limits on coverage and denial of coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and the requirement to spend 80-85 percent of premiums on medical claims, among others.
White House, Congress subject to applicable taxes. The health care bill includes increased Medicare taxes on those with incomes over $200,000. The bill also includes an excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored plans and a tax on indoor tanning services. The White House and Congress are not exempt from these taxes.
Only Congress and congressional staff are restricted to the exchange plans
Bill does not require Americans to enroll in health care exchange plans. Contrary to the suggestion that participating in the exchange plans is mandatory, there is no such requirement, and indeed, only 24 million people would be enrolled in the exchanges as of 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while 159 million will have employer-sponsored coverage. The bill states: "Nothing in this title shall be construed to restrict the choice of a qualified individual to enroll or not enroll in a qualified health plan or to participate in an Exchange."
Bill says "Members of Congress and congressional staff" will only be offered plans created by the bill or offered through exchanges established by bill. The bill states that "Members of Congress and congressional staff" will only have access to plans that are created by the health care bill or offered through the exchanges established by the bill. From H.R. 3590, the health care bill signed by President Obama on March 23:
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(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE.-
(i) REQUIREMENT.-Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are-
(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or
(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
(ii) DEFINITIONS.-In this section:
(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS.-The term ''Member of Congress'' means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF.-The term ''congressional staff'' means all full-time and parttime employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.
Requirement was included by Republican members of Congress. As a March 23 Politico report stated, "Last September, the Senate Finance Committee adopted a [Sen. Chuck] Grassley [R-IA] amendment into its version of the bill, mandating that members of Congress and their staff get their health insurance through the exchanges. It was agreed to by unanimous consent.... [Sen. Tom] Coburn [R-OK] had earlier filed a similar amendment in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which passed with some Democratic support." Politico noted that the Congressional Research Service said the version of the requirement that ended up in the final bill may not include committee staff and "those staff employed by leadership offices," which has drawn criticism from Grassley and other senators.
Media falsely assert White House, congressional staff are "exempt from health care bill"
Hannity falsely claimed Obama and congressional staff are "not subject to the same health care bill" as the people. During the March 24 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity claimed that Obama and congressional staff are "exempt" "from the bill." He also stated during the program, "they exempt themselves, the staff, President Obama is not subject to the same health care bill." From Hannity:
S.E. CUPP: This affects everyone. It affects every family, everyone's wallet, this is --this is huge.
HANNITY: But I think that this thing that we just discussed with the two senators on, the fact they exempt themselves, the staff, President Obama is not subject to the same health care bill. It's like the prime minister in Canada, he needs health care. He has a single-payer system. He flies to Miami to get his health care.
GERRI WILLIS: Are you surprised?
JUAN WILLIAMS: They didn't exempt --
RICHARD MINITER: And Obama's children, as well.
HANNITY: Yes, Obama's exempt. He's exempt.
WILLIAMS: The congressional staff are not exempt.
HANNITY: Yes, they are exempt. They absolutely are. Yes!
WILLIAMS: Congresspeople are not. Because they have federal coverage.
HANNITY: No, no, no. They're all exempt and their staff.
WILLIAMS: Well, look this -- they have coverage. They have existing coverage. It's like you have --
HANNITY: So does everyone in America. Ninety percent of Americans have existing coverage.
Kilmeade falsely claimed there are "provisions" that "make sure" Congress, Obama don't "get" Obamacare. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade stated during the March 24 broadcast: "Obamacare, who will get it? Should the Congress get it? Should the president get it? There is provisions there to make sure they don't."
Carlson falsely claimed lawmakers don't have to do "what the American people are now going to be required to do." During the March 24 edition of Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson stated, "I think that this is astounding that these lawmakers are not required to do exactly what the American people are now going to be required to do."
Politico falsely suggested "the new health care law" is not "applied" to White House and certain Congressional staffers. In a March 24 post Politico stated, "An amendment that would have applied the new health care law to the president, vice president, top White House cabinet members and staffers and certain Congressional staffers failed Wednesday night, 43-56." The post later suggested, accurately, that the amendment addressed who would be required "to participate in the exchanges" and not "the new health care law" in general.
RedState: "Senior Congressional Staff EXEMPT From Health Care Bill." RedState's Erick Erickson wrote a March 22 post titled "Senior Congressional Staff EXEMPT From Health Care Bill." The post quoted Ben Domenech's claim that a provision in the bill "exempt[s] those senior Democrat staffers who wrote the bill from being forced to purchase health care plans in the same way as other Americans." Erickson added, "John Edwards was right - there are two Americas. The one the Democratic legislators live in and the one the rest of us live in."
New York Post falsely claimed White House staffers "are exempt from the calamitous health-care 'reform' plan they've hung on the rest of the country." From a March 24 New York Post editorial:
Good old Joe Biden, introducing Barack Obama at the health-care bill-signing lollapalooza in Washington yesterday, leaned over and whispered into the presidential ear (and a nearby open mike): "This is a big f
Sure was -- though not personally to Veep Potty-Mouth, nor to the president.
They're exempt, you see.
No worrying for them about the personal consequences of ObamaCare's overbearing regulation, worrisome coverage uncertainties and financial confusions.
Same for members of the presidential Cabinet -- and all of their staff members.
They and their families are exempt from the calamitous health-care "reform" plan they've hung on the rest of the country.
(Think maybe they know something?)