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Letter to the editor: How to get Congress to pass healthcare repeal and reform quickly

A main problem with getting Congress to act on repealing and replacing the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 (aka ObamaCare) is that they are not directly affected by the act. If the members of Congress and their staff had to obtain healthcare coverage by the same rules as the common taxpayers they would not be engaging in this ridiculous political fighting.

Chapter 1312 of the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 specifically required members of Congress and their staff to acquire health insurance the same way as all independent taxpayers. Instead, while millions of Americans are struggling with health insurance premium spikes of 150 percent or more over the past years members of Congress and their staffers have been receiving a sweet deal.

The most recent version of the final Office of Management and Budget posted rule indicates that if you are a member of Congress or an employee of a member of Congress and choose to be enrolled as if you are working for a small employer then you will get special treatment. This appears to mean that if a Gold level health plan from the Washington DC insurance exchange was chosen, we the taxpayers will subsidize up to 75 percent of the premium. (Note: the Gold level is the best plan available.)

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has said this in reference to the language of the law: "... the Act included clear and unambiguous language providing that all Members of Congress and congressional staff employed by the official of a Member of Congress be subject to the terms of Section 1312 regardless of their dates of employment. Thus, this final rule implements Section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act as written." (Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 191, page 60653.)

The OMB then states that although the law is clear, that they believe these good people fall under a different section of the law. In other words the OMB determined that in their view, a Congress Member, along with their staff members, could be considered the same as employees of a small business and could have access to the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). It should be noted that Congress created SHOP to benefit very small employers, not Congressional office employees. And SHOP enrollees are assumed to be employed in the same state as their employer, not spread throughout the entire United States.

It is okay with me that members of Congress and their staff get a health benefit from employment, but it is not okay with me that it is provided by ignoring the law. The OMB simply stretched law beyond belief to satisfy the very members of Congress who passed the law in the first place. Members of Congress and their staffers should not be provided a shield from the real world of health insurance while the citizens are subjected to rules and laws.

President Trump should immediately rescind the regulation that changed the intent of Chapter 1312 of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. This action by the President will get both Republicans and Democrats to the table quickly to reform and replace ObamaCare.

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