As House Republicans scramble to get 218 votes to move their revised health plan (a.k.a. Zombie Trumpcare) out of the House, it seems that out of either carelessness or hypocritical avarice they have made a huge drafting mistake by trying to exempt themselves and their employees from the new system. Sarah Kliff explains:
The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.
Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case: members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these Obamacare regulations.
It was a small issue in a large, complex legislative process, but when Obamacare was being put together Senate Republicans managed successfully to insert an amendment that forced Congress and congressional staff to give up their fine federal employee health-benefit insurance and instead seek insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. That provision took effect in 2014.
Fast-forward to this new amendment, which would allow states to waive out of key Obamacare protections like the ban on pre-existing conditions or the requirement to cover things like maternity care and mental health services.
If Congressional aides lived in a state that decided to waive these protections, the aides who were sick could be vulnerable to higher premiums than the aides that are healthy. Their benefits package could get skimpier as Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement may no longer apply either.
This apparently does not sound appealing because the Republican amendment includes the members of Congress and their staff as a protected group who cannot be affected by this amendment.
So: House Republicans are not only failing to make themselves subject to the same laws as the Americans whose health-care coverage they are seeking to reduce, they are going out of their way to keep Obamacare — you know, that tyrannical and insanely expensive system they are so determined to destroy.
This is the kind of unforced error of which legislative fiascos are made. And it’s not like Zombie Trumpcare was doing that well even before the revelation that House Republicans considered it sauce for the taxpayer goose, but not for the congressional gander.