In a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), Ralph Hudgens, insurance commissioner for the state of Georgia, reports that Georgia insurance companies have filed new rate plans under Obamacare that will increase insurance rates up to 198%. Hudgens goes on to demand that the USDHHS delay implementation so that Georgia may get its house in order before the massive hikes take place. He also requests that the department justify the massive increases, as they are directly contradictory to what the President had promised. Finally, he demanded a prompt response to this “emergency situation”.
Georgia isn’t alone. A recent report from the Ohio Department of Insurance states that under Obamacare the average increase will be around 88%. Ohio and Georgia are certainly not unique. This story is repeated again and again all over the country.
Because Congress never read the bill, they had no idea how hard this would hit them. The law still remains unclear. Many threatened to quit their jobs on the Hill and move to the private sector because they could be forced to give up their subsidy. It seems odd that lawmakers threatened to abandon their constituents in a fit because they had to be included in a law that they forced upon us all.
All due to an amendment, which GOP lawmakers added to the Patient Care Act that required all lawmakers and their staff to be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an exchange before 2014. The amendment reads:
“Section 1312(d)(3)(D): The only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and their congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are created under this Act…or offered through an Exchange established under this Act.”
As of now, taxpayers pay almost 75 percent of premium payments for Congress as part of government employee benefits in Washington. Republican lawmakers believed that if America had to be a part of this then lawmakers and staff could not be allowed any exemptions. The law should apply to all Americans equally. Right?
Not so fast… Democrats had another plan. It was reported by Politico months ago that democrats in Congress were attempting to give themselves and staff an exemption. However, they quickly dismissed it as rumor. Harry Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson flatly denied a report that the democrat majority leader had sought an exemption for lawmakers and their staffers:
“There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or Congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care.”
There were even reports that some legislators would attempt to change the legislation by attaching an amendment to a must-pass funding bill.
“I don’t care what the answer is,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R, Okla.). “Give us an answer so that if we want to do a legislative fix to take care of the people who actually work for us,” we can. “I mean, they’re going to be the only set of federal employees that actually get paid by the federal government that have to go into the exchange. (OPM knows) the answer—they just won’t share it. And I want time to legislate on it before we lose half our staff.”
As the 2014 deadline approaches, in plutarchy fashion, the President and Congress moved to exempt themselves and staff from provisions of the law, which would have possibly made them lose their subsidy. Obama told a group of democratic senators in a private meeting last Wednesday that he would find a solution for them. He came through. Lawmakers and their staff will now be exempt from a provision, which could force them to buy into the system the same way we do. They will continue to receive the subsidies they currently get regardless of the amendment, which could now make this against the law set forth in the Patient Care Act. Now lawmakers and staff will not feel the swift kick in the gut that the rest of us will. For now, Congress won’t have to leave their jobs on top of the Hill.
“The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.”