House Republicans introduced a health care amendment Tuesday night that would allow individual states to opt out of Obamacare’s provision prohibiting insurers from charging higher rates for those with pre-existing conditions, with one catch: Members of Congress and their staff would be exempt from the higher premiums.
As Vox notes, in its current iteration, Obamacare requires all members of Congress and their staff to purchase health insurance through the marketplace, just like regular enrollees, because if the coverage under this law is good enough for the American people, then it should be good enough for “their representatives in Washington,” too.
The amendment Republicans introduced Tuesday night would allow insurers to charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people, but the GOP appeared to include a provision in the amendment that would exempt Congress members from such a policy, according to Vox.
To put it plainly, members of Congress and their staff are included as a protected group that could not be affected by the terms of this new amendment.
GOP legislators seemed fine with this loophole until Vox reported on it Tuesday night.
On Wednesday morning, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) issued the following statement indicating that he would work to eliminate that provision:
Congressman MacArthur does not believe Members of Congress or their staff should receive special treatment and is working with House Leadership to make absolutely clear that Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same rules, provisions, and protections as all other Americans.
An aide in MacArthur’s office told Vox that the provision was added at the request of the Senate Budget Committee in order to comply with the rules of Senate reconciliation, but an aide with the committee said that is not true.
“We did not write, did not draft it and did not add it,” the Senate aide told Vox.
The aide said that while the Senate Budget Committee has been advising House Republicans on some of the technical provisions in their bill, it was not making any policy suggestions, including this congressional exemption.
There is no indication as to when the amendment might be rewritten to exclude the exemption.
Read more at Vox.