Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has joined a dozen or so other lawmakers in turning down the federal subsidy for his health insurance premium.
Graham said Monday (Dec. 9) he would enroll in his home state’s health insurance exchange, which is run by the federal government. despite his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
According to Graham, who is 58 and single, he will have to pay $400 more per month under Obamacare than under his current plan. But that increase is largely due to his refusal to accept his employer’s contribution.
Under Obamacare, senators are permitted a federal subsidy, or employer contribution, covering about 75 percent of their health insurance premiums when they enroll in the D.C. Health Link exchange.
“I don’t think members of Congress should get a special deal,” Graham said in a statement. “Obamacare is being pushed on the American people, and we should live under it just like everyone else.”
The notion that members of Congress are getting a “special subsidy” under Obamacare has been circulating for awhile now. But according to FactCheck.org, the claim is misleading. In reality, the so-called subsidy is just a continuation of something the federal government has been doing all along: making a contribution to its employees’ health insurance premiums.
In paying a portion of its employees’ health plan premiums, the federal government is no different than other employers. However, when Obamacare was being debated, a provision was added that required members of Congress to give up their insurance with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and purchase health insurance through the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. Other federal workers, like private sector Americans, were allowed to keep their existing insurance plans if they wanted to.
Because the provision failed to address the federal government’s employer contribution, lawmakers became concerned that when Obamacare went into effect, contributions wouldn’t be made to the new health exchange plan as they were under their prior plan. So, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) promulgated a rule saying the federal government could continue to make the premium contributions.
Some Republicans then seized on OPM’s new regulation and started voicing the distorted view that the rule amounted to “special treatment” for Congress and an exemption from the Affordable Care Act.
Now, Sen. Graham not only continues this baseless claim of a special subsidy, he refuses to let his employer pay part of his health premiums and then complains he’s paying too much under Obamacare.