This post should strike a chord with everyone, regardless of your political persuasion.
Were you angered last month when the GOP-controlled Senate failed to repeal Obamacare? I know I certainly was. Republicans have promised for seven years to “repeal and replace” Obamacare – if only voters would give them majority control of Congress and the White House. We did just that. Yet the GOP failed to muster the votes needed to repeal Obamacare, much less replace it with something better.
Here’s another question: Did you know that the president has the power to order members of Congress to get their health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, just like the rest of Americans who don’t get health insurance through their employers? I didn’t think so.
Just before the GOP vote to repeal Obamacare failed in July, President Trump issued the following warning to Congress:
“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!… If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what [the] public pays?”
In other words, President Trump threatened to put Congress on Obamacare. According to The Wall Street Journal, in an article on August 1, the president has the authority to do just that. We’re told that this suggestion sent shockwaves through members of Congress who get an exclusive “sweetheart deal” on their healthcare insurance.
You see, members of Congress, with the help of President Obama, carved out for themselves and their staffs an exemption from Obamacare when it was passed. They voted to continue buying their healthcare coverage from federally sponsored programs that subsidize up to 75% of the cost of the plans.
When that plan ran into difficulties, the Obama administration’s Office of Personnel Management certified the House and Senate as “small businesses” with fewer than 50 full-time employees. What a joke!!
This ridiculous certification allowed members of Congress to purchase health plans on the District of Columbia’s exchange for small businesses, where employers – in this case the government – can make contributions to significantly reduce members’ healthcare premiums.
Are you getting mad yet? I certainly hope so!
In the late July Senate healthcare debate, Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson circulated an idea to block health insurance subsidies for congressional members who earn at least $174,000 a year. Alas, the Johnson amendment received almost no support. Not even Democrats want to pay higher rates for their own health policies.
But here’s the point: President Trump could direct the government to scrap the subsidies for Congress, which are reversible because Obama crafted parts of his healthcare law through executive orders that can be undone by a successor. Thus, President Trump has the power to order Congress to get their healthcare through Obamacare.
Revoking the existing rules would have the political effect of forcing members of Congress to live under the Obamacare regime that Democrats rammed into law – and Republicans have failed to fix or repeal. If members are subjected to higher premiums and fewer insurance choices, they will be seriously inspired to fix the law for the millions who have had to endure it.
Again, I say just do it! Let Congress live under the same healthcare options they voted in for all of us. This should be a no-brainer. Never mind that this would likely result in higher health insurance premiums for members of Congress and their staffs.
If members of Congress are saddled with higher healthcare premiums and fewer insurance choices, as we increasingly are, there is no doubt that they will get serious about fixing the law for the millions who have had to deal with it for the last seven years.
At the end of the day, the question is whether or not President Trump was serious last month when he suggested imposing Obamacare on Congress. To my knowledge, he hasn’t mentioned it since. I hope he was serious and he hasn’t forgotten.
If Trump were to seriously threaten the House and Senate with living under Obamacare, there is no doubt in my opinion that Congress would come up with a great healthcare program for all of us very quickly. They just need the right motivation.
The president desperately needs a WIN at this point, and I think this move would be a big winner with the American people. I’ll keep you posted.