Republican accuses fellow lawmakers of ‘lying’ about Obamacare exemption

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Republican Sen. David Vitter is slamming his fellow lawmakers for “lying” and telling their constituents that there is no such thing as an Obamacare exemption for members of Congress and their staff members.

“Some are lying, trying to mislead the public about the Obamacare exemption for Congress,” Republican Sen. David Vitter said in a statement Thursday. “President Obama recently issued a special rule for Congress and congressional staff to get a special subsidy to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange unavailable to every other American at similar income levels. That’s an exemption, plain and simple.”

Vitter has been leading the Republican fight in the Senate with an amendment that kills federal Obamacare subsidies for lawmakers and their staff. It would require that all members of Congress, the president, vice president, and Obama administration appointees to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchange without taxpayer-funded subsidies.

To show that lawmakers are “denying” the existence of the exemption, Vitter’s office on Thursday released to the media a letter that fellow Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, sent to a constituent. She said the notion they are getting special treatment “could not be further from the truth.”

“Once again, let me assure you that there is no exemption for Members of Congress and their staff in the [Affordable Care Act], nor will I ever support an ‘exemption’ for myself of my staff,” Landrieu wrote.

Vitter’s office provided a copy of the letter he sent to the same constituent: “Senator Landrieu is trying to mislead you, to put it kindly. Others might say she is lying.”

“As you have no doubt read, President Obama recently issued a special rule for Congress only. Under it, Congress and congressional staff get a special subsidy to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange unavailable to every other American at similar income levels,” he said. “That special subsidy is worth approximately $11,000 per family.”

Vitter’s office also released a graphic that he says proves his point:


The Obamacare fix for lawmakers and staff was made because the Affordable Care Act includes an amendment from a Republican senator that changes how the government currently covers most of the cost of health-care premiums for members and their staffers. The new law mandates that members and staff must enter into exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.

The Office of Personnel Management announced in August that it plans to provide a subsidy of about 75 percent of the cost for the healthcare of members and staff.

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