When Republicans failed to pass a healthcare bill that would have repealed and replaced portions of Obamacare, President Trump took to Twitter to express his disappointment.
To increase pressure for a bill to pass, he questioned why members of Congress don’t pay the same for healthcare as Americans have to pay for Obamacare plans.
If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn't it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2017
Trump had previously threatened to end what he called “bailouts” for insurance companies and Congress after the failing of the GOP-led Senate to pass either a healthcare reform bill, a flat-out Obamacare repeal, or a so-called “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, Breitbart reported.
The vote on a “skinny repeal” failed Friday after three Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME) and John McCain (R-AZ) defected and voted against the measure. The vote failed 49-51.
In the wake of that vote, Trump accused those who voted against the bill of having “let the American people down” and said that it was time to “let Obamacare implode, then deal.”
While the healthcare reform agenda appears to be dead in Congress, Trump has also urged Congress not to give up — noting that Republicans hold control of both Houses.
“Don’t give up Republican Senators, the World is watching,” he urged in a tweet on Sunday.
Remember this McCain and use your brain. pic.twitter.com/YAsOLvlysD
— Trumpism 3.0™ (@Team_Trump45) July 30, 2017
The question centers on a provision in Obamacare that went into effect in 2014, one that lawmakers understood at the time would be politically sensitive. Members of Congress and their staff aren’t specifically exempt from Obamacare and their plans changed as a result of the law, but they also don’t receive the same coverage as, for instance, someone who is self-employed, the Washington Examiner reports.
Prior to Obamacare, members of Congress received healthcare coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the same program that covers 8 million people who work for U.S. government agencies or who are retired from the federal government. This meant that their employer, the federal government, contributed funding to their healthcare plans.
When Obamacare passed, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced an amendment that said Congress should be required to follow the same laws it imposed on everyone else, and so part of the law obligated Congress and its staff to buy Obamacare plans.
Trump isn’t the only one to call for a change to the provision. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., had planned to file an amendment to strip the contributions if a GOP healthcare bill had gone forward.
After the bill failed, Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, said Friday that she thought the policy should be scrapped for members of Congress and their staffs as a way to motivate them to pass a healthcare bill.
“To unite congressional Republicans, President Donald Trump should take action to end the congressional exemption from Obamacare,” she said. “It is apparent that since members of Congress, their families and staff do not have to live under the law they passed for every other American, they lack the incentive to take the action they were elected to take. Ending Congress’s special exemption from Obamacare will motivate Republicans to finally keep their promise — if not for principle, at least to improve their own insurance predicament.”
Unlike the laws that dictate coverage for most Americans who use the exchange, which require an act of Congress for significant overhaul, the small business rule can be changed through administrative action.
If members of Congress had Obamacare and were dealing with the same high rates and failing insurance plans like the American people are, they would have repealed and replaced it weeks ago.