Congress will be covered by “Obamacare”

Some of you, gentle readers, seem to have heard a rumor that members of Congress won’t be covered by “Obamacare.” They are.

(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE

(i) REQUIREMENT- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are–

(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) (h/t Jonathan Cohn)

194 comments Add your comment

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
5:44 pm

Ms. Tucker

That is the first good news I heard today. But the bad news keeps coming with AT&T and 5 other companies looking to drop prescription drugs for retirees. I retired last year and this does not make me happy.

Micar

March 26th, 2010
5:57 pm

I wonder if these companies are just pursuing the typical corporate opportunistic strategy of pursuing their self interest or if this if they are starting to promote rugged individualism. I doubt that AT&T has gone into the red at this juncture. Lord knows I pay them enough for my iphone service.

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
6:07 pm

Apparently, the new healthcare bill ends subsidies started in 2003 and AT&T and others are looking to drop this benefit to retirees. This was one of the saving the healthcare bill was counting on, as long as the companies continued to pay for it. If the companies push the retirees to Medicare Obama can not count on the $600 per employee savings that was in the plan and will now have to pony up $1200 per retiree to be put on Medicare, or so the AP story says.

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
6:09 pm

Only one caveat to the story, AT&T couldn’t drop the drug plan until 2012 when the current contract expires. Expect a lot of unhappy union members when it does.

dlt

March 26th, 2010
6:13 pm

Micar, these companies and their ceo’s are looking out for the interests of their investors. People like you and I that put their money in 401K’s and in the stock market. Well folks it looks like employees and retirees will have to pay more for Obama Health Care. And you and I will have to pay more for these companies products. Yep prices are going up!!

Thank you so much Obama and Congress. Comrades, I just love socialism!

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
6:27 pm

Ms. Tucker

This afternoon I wrote that I hope you were right that this bill would create jobs. Well maybe it has: Per the AP “GM to add workers, boost output at Canadian plants.” Yep, we bail out GM and they add jobs in Canada.

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
6:40 pm

And the hits just keep on coming: NY Times – Payroll tax can’t keep pace with benefits.

“This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

David Granger

March 26th, 2010
6:41 pm

Cynthia, if I really thought you actually believed that congress would be purchasing health care via the same exchange with the same options available at the same cost as the average US citizen…I’d think you were a blithering idiot. But I rather suspect that you know damn well there will be some sort of “parsing” of the language, and some kind of “special deal” worked out some way…probably behind the scenes. You’re not that stupid, and I don’t think you believe this anymore than the rest of us do.
Have a nice weekend!

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
6:43 pm

BTW, the Times article was on Social Security. This think it was better to push healthcare before jobs?

Jess

March 26th, 2010
6:45 pm

My dear,

You do realize that this was a last minute addition in response to the media exposing the fact that they were not included in the original bill. I think it was pushed by repubs.

abe lincoln was a republican

March 26th, 2010
6:47 pm

has anyone come up with an answer to my question from yesterday? how is MAKING me purchase something, after i pay my taxes, going to be good for me? and how is making me purchase something today, which i can’t utilize until 4 years from now, a good thing? oh,by the way, i”ve got a lake lot i’ll sale you today, and you can use it in 2014..anyone interested?

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
6:51 pm

Mr. Lincoln

It was good for you, because the Gov’t told you it was!

Chris Broe

March 26th, 2010
6:54 pm

Looks like congress will be covered by Obamacare, I’d say.

abe lincoln was a republican

March 26th, 2010
6:57 pm

has anyone heard the phone message left on the republican congresswoman’s voice mail? it’s saying he wished that when she got hit by a car last year that it would’ve broke her back and she would’ve died. and proceeded to call her and all republicans racist…at first i thought it was a democrat leaving the message, but we know better, don’t we? a democrat would never do anything like that!!

Justin Kase

March 26th, 2010
6:59 pm

“Looks like congress will be covered by Obamacare, I’d say.”

If we could only take away all their perks and kickbacks, this entire bill could be paid for.

dlt

March 26th, 2010
7:20 pm

Congress covered by Health Care!? Are pigs flying now? Did the Falcons win the Super Bowl? Did the fire and brimstone retreat suddenly freeze over?

cg

March 26th, 2010
8:09 pm

This bill is not about Health Care at all. This is a shell game to confuse people. This is to take away more of our rights and have easy access to the medical records of every American against their will. If you can’t afford the insurance, you can fined and also face confinement. Wait for the internment camps to officially open if they haven’t already.

Reality

March 26th, 2010
9:18 pm

@cg 8:09
Have you taken your prozac? Lordy, you really need some help!

Cailte

March 26th, 2010
9:34 pm

Shorter David Granger: I’m going to believe what I want to believe regardless of the facts.

Whatever

March 26th, 2010
10:22 pm

What amazes me, is that anyone would think that Congress having to be “covered” by Obamacare will make a difference to any of our members of representatives or senators. Wealthiest senator of all – John Kerry.

It’s not going to matter to them. They are not in our shoes. Someone else can do the analysis to figure up net worth for Democrats vs. Republicans..

From OpenSecrets.org:

As Economic Storm Brewed, Congressional Wealth Grew 13% Last Year
Published by Communications on October 16, 2008 1:18 PM

“U.S. senators had a median net worth of approximately $1.7 million in 2007, the most recent year for which their financial data is available, and 62 percent of the Senate’s members could be considered millionaires. In the House of Representatives, the median net worth was about $684,000, with 39 percent of members having net worths estimated to be at least $1 million. By contrast, only about 1 percent of all American adults can be considered millionaires. Growth between 2006 and 2007 was still a healthy 13 percent, despite indications last year that the economy was headed south.”

dlt

March 26th, 2010
10:33 pm

Yes it will be the rich and famous (Hollywood Hypocrites, Limousine Liberals, Elitist Government Officials) that will jet off to foreign lands to get better Health Care than we can get in the States years down the road after ObamaCare and our Health Care system has been fully institutionalized. The not so fortunate will be stuck with a second-rate HC system. Happy Obamanation!

Acer706

March 27th, 2010
12:12 am

Honestly, who cares if they are covered?

DMR

March 27th, 2010
12:18 am

I think the Atlanta Journal should take the name “CONSTITUTION” away. It is obvious the Federal Government already has taken the Constitution away. Forcing a private citizen to enter into a contract with another private citizen is unconstitutional. What if the Government began to and regulated the number of kids you could have, or how many cigarettes you could smoke in your private residence, or how many trips to Burger King you could make in a given week, or what kind of exercise regimen you had to be on to qualify for Health Care or any other program. If you don’t oppose the Government taking away this fundamental freedom; eventually they will get around to taking a freedom you do value.

Michael

March 27th, 2010
12:48 am

Cynthia, I hope you learned your lesson here again. Just because you post a fact doesn’t mean people will believe it.

I learned that about a decade ago as I tried to tell people that the Civil War was all about slavery. I got the “states’ rights” canned response, so I dug up some of the articles of secession from the states, including Georgia. They said things like “the feds shouldn’t be allowed to tell us that we can’t own the negro race.” It was states’ rights — states’ rights to own slaves.

It’s a shame that facts aren’t good enough.

martin

March 27th, 2010
1:41 am

even if everyone had to be in some gov’t approved health care plan, how in the world are we going to pay for it? Social Security is broke, unemployment insurance we are now hearing is broke, medicaid and medicare is paying out more than it is taking in. what are we going to do, tax everything and everybody at 50% or more, borrow from China? China has said we as a nation are fiscally irresponsible? they will probably stop buying our debt soon. we can’t afford this. why can’t people understand this?

Michael

March 27th, 2010
2:32 am

Martin, we’re going to pay for it with a lot of taxes here and there and — hopefully — reforming the payout system. I think the gist is doctors don’t just run every possible test for the sniffles just to CYA from lawsuits. I think some work still needs to be done on tort reform and probably would have through the reconciliation bill if it were budget-related.

There is also the added income the insurance companies will make from the mandate for everyone to have insurance so people don’t try to jump on when they get sick.

As far as everything else, job creation will fix a LOT of things. Unemployment keeps running out because we have a 10 percent jobless rate. The Great Recession put a HUGE hit on the budget without factoring in any spending for TARP or the stimulus package. All those foreclosed homes and unemployed are taxes not being paid and unemployment being paid out.

Huge deficits aren’t unexpected during such a crisis. The problem is we were about $10 billion in the hole before this hit. Once we get the job market fully turned around, then we can address those shortfalls. It’s counterproductive to start cutting programs that employ people while other jobs are so darn hard to find.

jim in Jackson

March 27th, 2010
5:06 am

Ms. Tucker, I am sorry you have to tolerate the unecessary rants that dominate your blog.
Once in a while honest intelligent individuals like Michael make worthwhile contributions.Unfortunately, those with diarrhea of the mouth do not listen to his wisdom but to the voices in their heads.

Dave R.

March 27th, 2010
8:20 am

Congress was always included in this exchange. Frankly, that isn’t the issue, even if some might want to make it one (or deflect it in the case of Ms. Tucker).

The exchange allows for many different plans to be offered, and our so-called “representatives” get to pick and choose the plan they want based on protection, cost and subsidies. Given that they make so much money as it is, they’ll obviously have no trouble affording the “Cadillac-level” plan that will provide them better coverage than the lesser plans offered in the exchange that will be deemed “affordable” for us commoners.

This is just Cynthia’s way of deflecting attention from the real news of the day, which is the newly-released cost to businesses (something those of us not entranced with the possibility of this passing knew from the start). This is yet another reason why CBO numbers are always wrong and always favor the government’s argument – they never look at the practical side of legislation in the marketplace.

Do you thing AT&T and others are going to take a multi-million or billion dollar loss without changing the way they do business? Nope. They will either drop their drug subsidy plan to their (largely union member) retirees, or they will cut costs by cutting jobs. Either way one or both of the promises touted by Nancy Pelosi will fall by the wayside – this will not be a job creation bill and it will not be deficit neutral as the loss of that subsidy will result in more people going to the government for their subsidy.

Once again, the government solution to a problem is the wrong one. And if the Democrats in Congress cared less about history and more about the truth, they would have looked at everything in this bill and voted it down.

There is ample reason to gut this bill to the tune of about 90% and keep the few things it needed to do.

Chris Broe

March 27th, 2010
8:48 am

Kyle Wingfield is away and can’t publish comments. His latest article is a scream. He reminds me of the proper high society lady who admonishes the formal dinner guests against throwing any more creme pies while she is SO ready for her closeup, Mr Deville.

My kingdom for a spring-loaded mannequin’s arm. A little to the right….a little more to the right……

Scout

March 27th, 2010
9:05 am

Dear Posters:

Ms. Tucker is allowing comments so it is o.k. to read her editorial.

MarkV

March 27th, 2010
9:42 am

Dave R. @8:20 am
“Congress was always included in this exchange. Frankly, that isn’t the issue, even if some might want to make it one (or deflect it in the case of Ms. Tucker).”

Wrong. The accusation that the members of Congress would have some special health care plan not available to other people was a battle cry of conservatives all last year as the reform bill was being created. As for the argument that they would be able to afford the more expensive plans because of their salaries, it is downright silly. That applies to everybody, and lots of people earn more than members of Congress. What would you want – that the members of Congress could buy only the cheapest plan?

MarkV

March 27th, 2010
9:46 am

martin: Many developed countries can afford universal health care for their people, and the richest country in the world cannot?

Jess

March 27th, 2010
9:54 am

Michael,

I think we are way overestimating the added income from the mandate to buy insurance. Given the choice of a $6000-$8000 per year insurance bill or a $1000 fine, many will opt for the fine. Under the new rules, if they get sick, or have an accident, then they will buy insurance. Drs. will quickly learn it’s to their benefit to aid patients in this pursuit.

dlt

March 27th, 2010
9:57 am

Michael, and Jim: When Pigs Fly! The liberals lawyers in Congress could have included Tort reform in the bill. They chose not to. Now we will have the government telling doctors what test they can run on us. Nice!

The Democrats claim they can reform Medicare and save billions by cutting out waste and fraud. But we did not need a massive government take over of the HC system for this to happen! In reality there is little possibility the system will be cleaned up and made more efficient. After all, when was the last time the government became more efficient? When I went to work for them in the early 90’s they were still using punched cards!

We will need to rename “insurance companies” to “entitlement companies”. Clearly insurance is about risk. You buy insurance to mitigate the risk of having an accident in the future or becoming sick. Now that insurance companies have to cover you and I its become an entitlement: “We have a right to their product and they have to sell it to us any time and any where!” So much for living in a Free Country. And do you think the government fine will be greater than the cost of Insurance? No it will not. Smart money says there will be many that will pay the fine (because its cheaper than paying insurance for a full year), wait till they get real sick and then jump on the insurance (oops, I mean entitlement) bandwagon. ;oP

On to Job Creation and the Economy. The only jobs I’ve seen saved or created around here are for government jobs and workers who are paid too much to begin with. There off the pay scale when compared to the same position in private industry. And any time the government tinkers with the economy it winds up fouling it up. Just like “Cash for Clunkers”, which wound up paying more like $25K per individual per car and then caused a fall in sales when it was over. And look what the government did to the Housing Market. And on and on and on.

Government is the problem, not the solution.

MarkV

March 27th, 2010
10:05 am

dlt: Tort reform has been included in the bill. Since nobody has come up with a perfect recipe yet, it is appropriate that it is in the form support for pilot plans in the states.

“Government is the problem, not the solution” was silly when Regan said it and it is silly now. If you are right that “there will be many that will pay the fine (because its cheaper than paying insurance for a full year), wait till they get real sick and then jump on the insurance (oops, I mean entitlement) bandwagon,” it would seem that the problem is those people, not the government.

Big Joe

March 27th, 2010
10:05 am

@Jim in Jackson – So, people who agree with socialism have “diarrhea of the mouth” and people like Michael who, though he writes well, thinks that job creation will magically appear from this gross expansion of the government is intelligent.

If you think that tax increases will spur job creation you have absolutely no understanding of economics at all. But then, communists have never really understood economics – that is why their nations have failed time and again.

joan

March 27th, 2010
10:08 am

I am just sorry that Caterpillar took so long to publish that it will have to pony up about another $100,000,000 per year for the requirements of this plan. Starbucks says it will be paying 3,000,000. I imagine if all the companies would have come out with their figures earlier, people might have seen the devastation this will do. Higher prices, lower profits, more jobs sent offshore, and possibly companies relocating to jurisdictions where the taxes and regulations are not nearly as onerous. Good luck America. I love this country and hate to see it so crippled.

Justin Kase

March 27th, 2010
10:38 am

What the health care bill has done was to apparently throw a large number of retirees under the bus. I hope I’m wrong, but as more and more companies come out and state they may not be able to fund their retiree’s prescription drug plans forcing the retirees onto the Medicare Drug Plans. I sure the politicians who crafted this bill figured on a number of people being upset, but if this trend continues they haven’t seen nothing yet.

dlt

March 27th, 2010
10:39 am

MarkV: There’s no teeth to that “demonstration project” and so it might as well not be in the bill! Its a ruse so the liberals can say “Hey there’s Tort Reform”. Come on.

dlt

March 27th, 2010
10:52 am

MarkV: “it would seem that the problem is those people, not the government.” — Its the Law of Unintended Consequences dude: “Any intervention in a complex system may or may not have the intended result, but will inevitably create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes” Government is good about passing laws that have a multitude of unintended consequences. And the end result is to really foul things up.

MarkV

March 27th, 2010
11:01 am

dlt: “the Law of Unintended Consequences: “Any intervention in a complex system may or may not have the intended result, but will inevitably create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes”.”
It applies to everything, not just the government, therefore it is irrelevant for the debate. If it were relevant, it would mean that no law should be passed and we should live in complete anarchy.

MarkV

March 27th, 2010
11:03 am

dlt: I suppose you have the perfect solution for the tort reform.

Dave R.

March 27th, 2010
11:37 am

MarkV: “What would you want – that the members of Congress could buy only the cheapest plan?”

Yes. They should get the minimum of what they are providing to the people that elect them.

And the tort reform that is in this bill is nothing like what the GOP proposed, and you know it. More deflection, and already tried by Cynthia and others. Since pilot programs have already been in place and have worked to keep increases to acceptable levels, why not implement the whole thing at the national level? Don’t worry. You don’t have to answer that. The trial lawyers were also paid off by the Democrats, except it was with non-action, instead of handouts to members.

Kamchak

March 27th, 2010
11:44 am

Dear Posters:

Ms. Tucker is allowing comments so it is o.k. to read her editorial.

Le petit caporal–you are laboring under the misapprehension that I am accountable to you.

Scout

March 27th, 2010
11:48 am

Kamchak:

Oh contrare’ ! That statement was entirely meant for her ………. not you!

Surely you understood that or dos’t thou think too highly of thyself?

Scout

March 27th, 2010
11:48 am

Ford was: experienced but not a strong leader.
Carter was: extremely honest but inept and out of his league.
Reagan was: aloof but well meaning.
Daddy Bush was: professional but unpredictable.
Clinton was: “slick” and immoral.
Bush W. was: businesslike but very naive.
Obama is: radical and dangerous.

That about sums it up for me ……….. I am neither Democrat or Repbulican …….. just conservative and I call ‘em like I see ‘em.

Kamchak

March 27th, 2010
11:55 am

Surely you understood that or dos’t thou think too highly of thyself?

I do not misunderstand. I am free to read what I wish without your permission. It is you who reach for authority not granted to you.

Whatever

March 27th, 2010
12:00 pm

MarkV wirtes at 9:24:

“The accusation that the members of Congress would have some special health care plan not available to other people was a battle cry of conservatives all last year as the reform bill was being created. As for the argument that they would be able to afford the more expensive plans because of their salaries, it is downright silly. That applies to everybody, and lots of people earn more than members of Congress. What would you want – that the members of Congress could buy only the cheapest plan?”

MarkV, you are either ignorant or selectively look at the facts presented to you. In what universe could 1 percent considered “..lots of people…” Like your uber-liberal friends, you only bray what you hear…without any critical thought. From my earlier post:

“U.S. senators had a median net worth of approximately $1.7 million in 2007, the most recent year for which their financial data is available, and 62 percent of the Senate’s members could be considered millionaires. In the House of Representatives, the median net worth was about $684,000, with 39 percent of members having net worths estimated to be at least $1 million. By contrast, only about 1 percent of all American adults can be considered millionaires. Growth between 2006 and 2007 was still a healthy 13 percent, despite indications last year that the economy was headed south.”

Scout

March 27th, 2010
12:01 pm

Kamchak:

I know you do not understand but that’s o.k.

Also, look up “hyperbole” if you wish ………. that was not a command.

Kamchak

March 27th, 2010
12:07 pm

Also, look up “hyperbole” if you wish …

I know what hyperbole means. The last time you used it was to justify your prevarication.