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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dennis Ross gets wish for vote to end Obamacare subsidies for lawmakers, staff



The latest House Republican budget maneuver includes a provision, pushed by Florida Rep. Dennis Ross, that would remove a subsidy for members of congress and staff to purchase health insurance on new exchanges.

“If our constituents must endure this law, Members of Congress must live under the full extent of it as well,” Ross, R-Lakeland, said in a statement. “We must do what is right, not only under the law, but in the eyes of our constituency.”

The move, certain to be rejected by the Senate, has been a source of concern on Capitol Hill, putting lawmakers in an awkward spot with employees, many of whom would face steep cost increases. But Ross and others (The Senate champion is David Vitter) say it’s necessary to make sure no one gets special treatment.

“I am thankful to have played a small role in introducing my amendment and elevating this serious issue and am glad that we will have a vote to ensure that Members of Congress, Congressional staff, the president, vice president, and political appointees do not get special treatment.”

Private employers provide subsidies, of course. But the federal subsidy tops 70 percent. With staff members facing much higher costs – and possibly choosing to leave government work – the Obama administration worked to transfer the subsidies to the new marketplace.

House Republicans made the decision after meeting this afternoon. “The president provided a one year delay of the employer mandate. He’s provided exceptions for unions and others. There’s even exceptions for Members of Congress," Speaker John Boehner said. "We believe that everyone should be treated fairly. So we’re going to move here in the next several hours to take the Senate bill, add to it a one year delay of the individual mandate on the American people. And get rid of the exemption for Members of Congress. It’s a matter of fairness for all Americans.” 

UPDATE: Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, also pushed to end the amendments, and says his version (a companion to Vitter's) is being adopted.

"It is appalling that the bureaucracy has attempted to shield Washington insiders from the plain text of ObamaCare by illegally granting members of Congress special subsidies not available to the American people,” DeSantis said. “It is a simple issue of fairness: members of Congress, their staff, and the political elite should not be given special relief from the harmful effects of ObamaCare while the rest of America is left holding the bag. I am glad that the House will vote on my amendment and I anticipate a successful outcome.”

[Last modified: Monday, September 30, 2013 5:39pm]


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