Harry Reid exempts some staffers from Obamacare

At virtually every turn over the last three-plus years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has protected Obamacare from Republican attempts to repeal, delay or defund the law. But despite his stubborn support this poorly conceived law, which has become politically toxic to vulnerable Senate Democrats, Reid has exempted some of his staffers from Obamacare:

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of Obamacare’s architects and staunchest supporters, is also the only top congressional leader to exempt some of his staff from having to buy insurance through the law’s new exchanges.
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In September, Reid told reporters, “Let’s stop these really juvenile political games — the one dealing with health care for senators and House members and our staff. We are going to be part of exchanges, that’s what the law says and we’ll be part of that.”

That’s true. Reid and his personal staff will buy insurance through the exchange.

But it’s also true that the law lets lawmakers decide if their committee and leadership staffers hold on to their federal employee insurance plans, an option Reid has exercised.

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson emphasized, “We are just following the law.”

Reid, who has become the electoral protagonist in 2014, has been bathing in hypocrisy lately, on issues ranging from the eliminating filibuster for some judicial nominees to refusing to allow a vote on Federal Reserve transparency, and, now, exempting his some of his staff from Obamacare.

He must be trying to avoid exposing his aides to the insurance premium “sticker shock” on the D.C. health insurance exchange about which some Democratic staffers have complained. Whatever the reason, it’s an example of Congress playing by a different set of rules than those they set for Americans.

At the urging of President Obama and congressional leaders from both parties, including Reid, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) ruled in August that members and staffers would get to keep the 75% subsidy to help pay for their health insurance, which is far greater than most subsidies available through the exchanges.

More recently, guidance was issued by administrative officers in both chambers that allows members to exempt staffers deemed to be “unofficial,” allowing them to keep health plans through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).

Some Republicans, led by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), fought hard to undo the OPM ruling in Continuing Resolution negotiations leading up to and during the government shutdown, but have been unsuccessful.

If Obamacare is supposed to be so amazing — so amazing that Reid has sacrificed his majority on it — why exempt staffers? Why not make the go on the exchange to purchase health plans, like so many of his constituents are being forced to do?

Reid and other members of Congress who are exempting their staff from Obamacare continue to send the wrong message to Americans. Most people don’t have choice in getting around this law.

They’re being coerced into buying health plans on the exchanges, in many cases paying for coverage that they don’t need, or face a punitive tax. If Americans do want to get around Obamacare, it seems their only course is find a job on Capitol Hill.


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