The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Gov. Walker Will Get Rid of Congress's Special Exemption Under ObamaCare

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Citizens Against Government Waste was pleased to learn that presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker agrees that Congress and their official staff have been given a special exemption under the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, and that it must be abolished.  He joins fellow presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in calling for its repeal.

In an August 20, 2015 speech in New Hampshire, Walker said the first thing he would do if he is elected president would be to submit a bill to repeal ObamaCare and then sign an executive order that undoes the special deal President Obama worked out with Congress, allowing them to live under different rules than other Americans.  He figures once they have to live under the requirements of ObamaCare, they would repeal the law quickly.  You can listen to his speech by clicking here and moving the cursor to 26.00.

In April, I wrote a blog on how Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) had been trying to bring attention to Congress’s special exemption from ACA that allows them to call themselves a “small business” in order to get access to taxpayer-funded subsidies to help pay for their health insurance premiums.  Under ACA, small businesses can provide premium assistance to their employees when they purchase insurance in a Small Business Health Options Program or “SHOP.”

In my July Waste Watcher article, I laid out the particulars of an ethics complaint submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and eight other signatories asking them to conduct an investigation on who in the Senate “may have broken laws and committed fraud to enable senators, Senate staffers, and their families to purchase health insurance on the District of Columbia’s Small Business Exchange.”  On August 14, a similar ethics complaint was submitted to the House of Representatives’ Office of Congressional Ethics asking for an investigation.

You may recall that according to ACA, “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).”

In other words, only those individuals that work in Congress with household incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level are entitled to receiving refundable tax credits to help pay for their premiums.  Since incomes greater than 400 percent of the poverty level are approximately $47,080 for an individual and $97,000 for a family of four, no member of Congress would be entitled to a subsidy.  Their minimum yearly salary is $174,000.

Many congressional staff make more than $47,080 a year so they are not entitled to taxpayer-funded subsidies either.  But President Obama’s deal via regulatory fiat allowed Congress and their personal staff to apply to the Washington D.C. SHOP for health insurance, enabling their employer, the federal government, to provide taxpayer-funded subsidies to help pay for their premiums.  A special deal if there ever was one and another example of Congress skirting the laws they write.

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