Is Tim Johnson’s “Get out of Obamacare” exemption of his staff allowable under the law?
SoDak Liberty brings up a good point I hadn’t explored yet – CAN Senator Tim Johnson exempt his staff from Obamacare under the law?
Some will try to say this is not an ‘exemption’ and that Senator Johnson’s move is perfectly legal. Well, its time to break out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act PDF again and see what was passed into law. Here is Section 1312(d)(3)(D):
(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).
(ii) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS.—The term ‘‘Member of Congress’’ means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF.—The term ‘‘congressional staff’’ means all full-time and parttime employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.
This section clearly states that Members of Congress and congressional staff must enter a plan created by ACA or enter an exchange established under ACA. It also clearly defines ‘congressional staff” to mean “all full-time and parttime employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.” This current “official’ vs. “unofficial” debate over congressional staff is DC politicians trying to create a loophole that would apply to their offices.