During the congressional deliberations over Obamacare, our elected representatives, largely from the Republican Party, never stopped touting how great the then current healthcare system was, that the private sector provided the best care in the world, and all sorts of other bloviating comments. Obamacare never intended, and didn’t, nationalize our healthcare system, but it made for great scare talk. Not one Republican voted for Obamacare.
Many people don’t know that it’s not true that our congressmen and senators do not get free healthcare. It’s also not true that they get free healthcare for life after serving only one term. In fact they are under the same healthcare system as all federal employees, the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB), which is an exchange consisting of private healthcare providers. The FEHB allows participants to choose different plans from different providers and different costs, but each is subsidized by the Federal Government. The plans were all (and still are) very generous and did not exclude preexisting conditions.
For all the lavish praise bestowed on private healthcare providers, only one former congressman, a Republican from Illinois, chose to reject the FEHB stating that he didn’t feel he was any better than his constituents and should purchase his insurance from the private sector. He did it at great additional cost. Congressman Phil Gingrey was one of those who trashed Obamcare, which would have eliminated preexisting conditions for everyone, while defending the current system. What’s interesting is that Gingrey was probably all but uninsurable during this time because of his preexisting conditions. After Obamacare passed Gingrey was one of those who said that if Obamacare was good enough for the American people, it was good enough for the members of congress.
Now Gingrey and all our Washington representatives are experiencing the curse of the Greek gods---they got what they wished for---and then some. They voted to take themselves out of the FEHB and require that they buy their insurance on the state exchanges like everyone else. What they forgot to do in passing this legislation is to provide the subsidy they had under the FEHB. Sadly, this works a hardship on congressional staffers who for the most part don’t get paid much. This should be corrected for them because it would be the right thing to do. Our elected officials should live with it but are working to restore their subsidy.
Every voter should know if their elected representative and senator voted themselves this subsidy handout when it comes up after they return to Washington. I predict that most, if not all, will support the subsidy under the guise of protecting the low paid staff members, but don’t be fooled. They can protect them while taking the hit for themselves. After all, if Obamacare is good enough for the American people, it’s good enough for them, and they should experience how most Americans live. And they don’t live like most of the people we send to Washington. If the Republicans are successful in repealing Obamacare one day, one wonders if they would eliminate the requirement to ensure preexisting conditions since this is a costly feature and one of the big reasons for mandatory insurance. If so, here’s hoping that they will be hoisted on their own petards.