Congress' insurance issue of Grassley's making

info@islandpacket.comAugust 19, 2013 

A number of letter writers endeavor to undermine Obamacare by making spurious statements. One of the latest has been that Congress exempted itself from Obamacare. This is not correct.

The problem arose in 2009 when a cheap stunt by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, proposed to force members of Congress out of the Federal Employee Health Program and into exchanges. He wasn't interested in shaping policy, but in creating a talking point for Republicans. He foolishly assumed Democrats would reject his plan because they would not want to give up their coverage. But the Democrats called Grassley's bluff, and Congress went into the exchanges. Grassley's amendment was so poorly written that he overlooked how coverage through the exchange marketplace would happen. Obamacare was not meant to replace health insurance for those already covered by health plans.

Like most large employers, the federal government contributes to the premium. So what would happen to such a contribution? Fortunately, the president realized the sneaky methods employed by Grassley and figured out a resolution to patch the problem that a Republican senator had imposed on lawmakers and their staffs. Grassley's proposal especially infuriated congressional staffs. So the president decided that Congress and its staffs could keep the employer contribution toward the cost of whatever insurance they buy in the exchanges.

The bottom line is that Congress is not exempt from Obamacare, and Grassley's trickery did not work. Obamacare: Signed, sealed and delivering.

Paul Russo

Bluffton

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