From an unfazed Politico:
President Obama on Hill’s Obamacare mess: I’m on it
By John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman | July 31, 2013
President Barack Obama privately told Democratic senators Wednesday he is now personally involved in resolving a heated dispute over how Obamacare treats Capitol Hill aides and lawmakers, according to senators in the meeting.
The president’s commitment was delivered at the beginning of Obama’s remarks to Senate Democrats during a closed-door session.
You see? The Democrat Senators have their priorities. And the most important thing in the world for Senate Democrats is to get out of Obama-Care. Or, failing that, they want a taxpayer subsidy so they will be able to afford the ‘free’ health insurance you get under Obama-Care’s exchanges.
At issue is whether Obama’s health care law allows the federal government to continue to pay part of the health insurance premiums for members of Congress and thousands of Hill aides when they are nudged onto health exchanges.
But the provision that forces Congress into the Obama-Care exchanges is in the law. And aren’t we being told that ‘the law is the law’? There is no way to change it, let alone defund it.
Currently, the government pays nearly 75 percent of these premiums. The government’s contributions are in jeopardy due to a controversial Republican amendment to the Affordable Care Act, which says that by 2014, lawmakers and their staff must be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an exchange.”
By the way, Congress and their staff members have to purchase coverage through an Obama-Care exchange, only thanks to a provision that the Republican Senator Charles Grassley added to the healthcare law. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have to live under the same law that they are forcing on the rest of us.
But you would never know that from the news media reports. In fact, this, like every report on this ‘controversy’ goes out of its way to make it sound bi-partisan. When it is mostly the Democrats who are howling.
The Office of Personnel Management hasn’t said if the Federal Employee Health Benefits program can contribute premium payments toward health plans on the exchange. If the payments stop, it could cost Hill staffers thousands of extra dollars each year.
Those poor people. Congressmen only make $174,000 a year. Their ‘poor’ staff only average around $71,000 a year.
Party leaders in both chambers want OPM to rule that the government can continue to contribute to health insurance premiums for members and staffers. OPM, though, has so far refused to say how it will handle the provision despite months of lobbying by lawmakers.
BS. It is mostly Democrats who are pushing this. In fact, remember, Obama brought this up first in his closed door meeting with Senate Democrats.
The controversy has to be resolved before Oct. 1, which is when members and staffers can begin enrolling in the exchanges.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Obama told the Democratic senators he was working to find a solution and that the administration will soon present its plan to top lawmakers in both parties.
“The president is aware of it,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “His people are working on it.”
Some lawmakers have privately threatened to push through a legislative fix – possibly attached to a must-pass spending bill – that would require the government to continue its contributions for health care premiums for Hill employees.
However, that could open a door for Obamacare opponents to try to unwind other parts of the 2010 legislation, and senior administration officials want to avoid that step or the accusation that lawmakers and Hill aides are getting any kind of special treatment…
Oh, our sides.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have been pressing OPM and the White House to find a solution to this issue through administrative action. Reid and Boehner – under heavy pressure almost daily from their own members and senators – have been leaning hard on administration officials, including White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, for answers.
Again, Politico is trying to stress how bipartisan this is. But, once again, Congress is only under Obama-Care thanks to a Republican amendment.