Arguing federal workers should not get special treatment, Rand Paul says he does not want taxpayers subsidizing the personal health-care plans of any federal employee — including Chief Justice John Roberts — anymore.
With some in Congress arguing lawmakers and their staff should not get subsidies to cover their health insurance as President Obama’s health-care law goes into effect, the Republican senator from Kentucky told The Daily Caller on Sunday that he’s going to start pushing a constitutional amendment that goes even further.
Paul’s proposal — outlawing any special exemptions for government employees — would mean all federal workers would have to purchase health insurance on the new Obamacare exchanges instead of getting taxpayer-funded subsidies. Some critics say those subsidies amount to special treatment. The Obamacare health insurance exchange opens Oct 1.
“My amendment says basically that everybody including Justice Roberts — who seems to be such a fan of Obamacare — gets it too,” Paul told TheDC by phone on Sunday from Mackinac Island in Michigan, where he won a straw poll of potential Republican candidates for president in 2016.
“See, right now, Justice Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer,” Paul said. “And if he likes Obamacare so much, I’m going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts.”
Roberts famously voted to uphold the constitutionality of Obama’s unpopular health-care law when it went before the Supreme Court last year.
Paul’s constitutional amendment says no federal employees should get special exemptions from laws. The senator also plans to push a proposal requiring that Congress and all federal employees rely on Obamacare for their insurance.
His proposal comes after outrage from conservatives about a so-called “exemption” for members of Congress and their staff from Obamacare.
What’s being referred to as 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 of Congress and their staffers. The new law mandates that members and staff must enter into exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.
But after concerns about the cost of health care going up for congressional employees, the Office of Personnel Management announced in August that it would provide a subsidy of about 75 percent of the cost for the health care of members and staff.
Paul revealed his new amendment push on Sunday after TheDC inquired about a proposal from Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who has proposed killing those federal Obamacare subsidies for lawmakers and their staff. “I support any effort to make all laws applicable to Congress that we pass,” Paul said.
But Paul says his proposal goes even further.
“I think mine is a little more inclusive,” Paul explained. “Mine — compared to Vitter’s — would include all federal employees, and save billions of dollars.”
He added: “Why don’t we do it for all federal employees? And mine would save quite a bit more money.”
Lawmakers, including Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have defended the special Obamacare exemptions being made for lawmakers and their staff. Earlier this month, the Nevada Democrat flatly stated, “That’s what the law says, and we’ll be part of that.”
“We’ll be treated like the rest of the federal employees,” Reid said. “It’s nothing unique that employers help pay for health care.”