Jim's Blog

The SCOTUScare Act

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Washington, June 29, 2015 | comments
Below is a blog article from Rep. Brian Babin:

“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people.  That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for Obamacare.  By eliminating their exemption from Obamacare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with!” — Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36)

To view the full text of the SCOTUScare Act (H.R. 2905), please click here.

What does the SCOTUScare Act do?

H.R. 2905, the SCOTUScare Act of 2015, is legislation that, if signed into law, would make sure that the only employer-sponsored health insurance plans available to Supreme Court Justices and their employees are insurance plans sold through the Obamacare Exchanges.

H.R. 2905 is nearly identical to Section 1312(d)(3)(D) of the Obamacare bill that was passed by the Nancy Pelosi-led Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.  That section ensures that the only employer-sponsored health insurance plans available to Members of Congress and their staff are plans selected and purchased through the Obamacare Exchanges.  H.R. 2905 simply applies this same concept to the Supreme Court as well as Congress.

Is Congress required to participate in Obamacare?

Yes. Section 1312(d)(3)(D) of the Obamacare bill makes clear that the only employer-sponsored insurance coverage available to Members of Congress and congressional staff are plans selected and purchased through the Obamacare exchanges.  The law says that all Members and staff who get their health insurance through our employer (Congress) must get that insurance through Obamacare, and that is exactly what all of my staff members do, both in Washington and Texas.  I myself have chosen to not enroll in any employer-sponsored health care plan.

The controversy you may have read about Congress being “exempt” from Obamacare has arisen because, on orders from President Obama, the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a controversial set of guidelines in August of 2013 to implement the new health insurance policy for Members of Congress and staff.  OPM’s policy allowed for a substantial subsidy (typically 75% of the cost of monthly premiums) to help Members and staff pay for the cost of their health insurance.  While this was the same subsidy provided to Members and staff under the previous federal benefits plan, and is still in place for almost all other federal employees, the fact remains that it was never authorized by Congress and is not available to any other American forced into Obamacare.

The other, more egregious aspect of the OPM rule was the fact that it allowed Members of Congress to sign a simple, confidential form that effectively exempts any of their employees from Section1312(d)(3)(D).  This form, which you can view here, allows Members of Congress, for any reason or no reason at all, to declare any of their staffers as “unofficial” and therefore not subject to Obamacare.  Staffers who are declared “unofficial,” some of whom make six figure salaries or were even declared as “essential” employees during the government shutdown, are completely exempted from Obamacare’s requirements for Congressional staff.  I have declared all of my staff as “official”, and while I despise Obamacare, the last thing I would ever do is exempt my own employees while millions of Americans suffer under it.

Why should the Supreme Court have to enroll in Obamacare?

The SCOTUScare Act is about fairness and equal treatment under the law.  Congress made very clear when it passed Obamacare in 2010 that Members of Congress and their staff should have to “eat their own cooking” when it comes to the fundamental changes the bill made to health insurance.  The decisions of the Supreme Court to rescue the bill in 2012 and 2015 have essentially made the Supreme Court co-authors and full partners in the implementation of the law, and therefore it makes total sense for the section of the bill that requires Members of Congress and staff to sign up for Obamacare to apply equally to the Supreme Court and its employees.

Why not make all federal employees subject to Obamacare?

Enacting a law to make sure that all federal workers, especially White House employees, are covered by Obamacare is an idea worthy of consideration, but despite these Supreme Court decisions my focus remains squarely on repealing and replacing this disastrous law, not expanding it.  Enrolling the Supreme Court Justices and their staffers in Obamacare serves the very real purpose of making them see first-hand the impact of their decisions as they consider future legal challenges to the bill.

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Tags: Obamacare