The latest House Republican proposal to make a fiscal deal over the budget includes killing Obamacare health-care subsidies for lawmakers and certain Obama administration officials.
This kind of proposal has gotten attention in recent months as Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has pushed his “No Washington Exemption from Obamacare” amendment.
That proposal would require all members of Congress, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and all political appointees in the Obama administration to purchase their own health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges without any taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Vitter on Tuesday praised House Republicans for inserting the language in the offer they plan to vote on to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling.
“This is really about fairness, making sure that Washington is forced to live under the same train wreck of Obamacare, that is forced on the rest of America,” Vitter said. “It will take the policy makers in Washington walking in the same shoes as the millions of Americans to actually make real policy changes, and clean up the train wreck.”
The issue of Obamacare subsidies for lawmakers is the result of the Office of Personnel Management￼ announcing in August that it plans to provide a subsidy of about 75 percent of the cost for the healthcare of members and staff.
The new law mandates that members and staff must enter into exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law. But lawmakers worried about a potential “brain drain” — Capitol Hill staffers leaving work because of the increased costs of health care — and therefore wanted the fix.
Some conservatives have claimed that’s a special Obamacare exemption for lawmakers. This proposal would stop that fix.
The House GOP plan to re-open the government also includes repealing what’s known as the medical device tax for two years.
But both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and the White House dismissed the offer on Tuesday.
Reid called it a “blatant attack on bipartisanship” and a White House spokeswoman called it “a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place.”
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner shot back on Tuesday by referencing the medical device tax on certain equipment like pacemakers.
“Is Senator Reid so blinded by partisanship that he is willing to risk default on our debt to protect a ‘pacemaker tax’ that 34 Senate Democrats are on the record opposing, and he himself called ‘stupid’?” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.