I found the letter below, from Senator Heller, in my inbox this morning. I am astonished! For someone who’s been in Congress for as long as he has, you’d think he’d understand how things work. Congress passes a bill delineating all parameters of how things will work under that particular bill and then the President signs that bill into law. It’s clear that Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) doesn’t understand that and thinks the President can just waive any provision in any law on any whim of the day via Executive Order (you know … those same orders they’re always complaining about).
Yesterday, Senator Heller sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he require House and Senate Leadership and the Executive Branch be subject to ObamaCare’s healthcare exchanges even though Congress, during the creation of ObamaCare, specifically exempted Members of Senate and House Leadership and their staffs in the provisions of that bill.
Mr. Heller, can say he’s been “vocal,” but he failed to even make that argument when the bill passed BOTH houses of Congress. HR3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), deemed “Obamacare” by the GOP, had 506 Amendments, none of which were introduced by Heller. If you want something different than what’s being offered, thou must introduce an Amendment, or having failed to do so or not having an opportunity to do so, thou must convince a party in the opposite house of Congress to do so for you. You can’t just wait until all is said and done and then ask the President to do something that YOU should know HE cannot legally do! And, if all else fails, thou must introduce a bill that would modify the implemented law.
Well, Senator Heller along with Senator Vitter have finally gotten around to submitting a bill. But—like all bills, it was referred to committee for investigation and action. If he doesn’t want it to die in committee (like most bills d0), then Senator Heller, who’s in the minority, needs to work his butt off to get enough Senators from the majority side to support his bill and vote it out of committee. He should know that. That’s the way Congress works. Playing cry-baby about this or that is childish, and writing the President about it, is not the way the process works. Plus, pursuing such antics as writing a cry-baby letter to the President only serves to ensure his bill will never make it out of committee, nor will it see the light of the floor for a vote.
And then there’s the section of Public Law 111-148, Sections 1312(D)(i) and 1312(D)(II) he specifically references in his letter:
|(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 part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.|
I don’t know about you, but to me, it clearly says members of both the House and the Senate are covered by this section and will receive their health care coverage through the Health Care Exchanges once they’re up and running. Senator Heller should learn to read and accurately quote the law before he wastes time and effort sending a childish, cry-baby letter to the President when he thinks he’s not getting his way.
July 16, 2013
The Honorable Barack Obama President of the United States The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006
Dear Mr. President,
Since the inception of ObamaCare, I have been very vocal in my concern about the cost and quality of care associated with health care exchanges. While Members of Congress and their staff are included under Section 1312(D)(i) and 1312(D)(II), Members of Senate and House Leadership and their staff, as well as the Executive Branch, are exempted from going into the exchange. The fact that lawmakers exempted themselves serves as further evidence that I do not stand alone in my concern about these health care exchanges.
However, it is only fair that lawmakers and all Congressional staff are beholden to the same laws as every other American. As you may recall, I wrote to you regarding this issue in 2009 to encourage you to require that any health care bill you sign include a provision that all elected officials enroll in the government-run health insurance plan, including the President. As a Member of the House Ways and Means Committee during the health care debate, I introduced an amendment to the bill that would require all Members of Congress and their dependents who choose to receive health care coverage do so through the exchange.
Now, on the eve of the deadline to enter these exchanges, some elected officials and their staff still are not included in the health care law. Senator Vitter and I introduced legislation in May ensuring that those who wrote the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and mistakenly left themselves out could now be included in the exchanges. Unfortunately, a hearing or floor action has not been scheduled. Perhaps now is the time for the Administration to consider making use of the Executive Order to ensure that all Senate and House Leadership and their staff, as well as the Executive Branch, are covered under the health insurance exchange created by the ACA. This would help ensure fairness is maintained across the board. I appreciate your leadership on this issue to make sure the $1.5 billion being delegated to the Department of Health and Human Services under your budget leaves no one out, including yourself
These individuals need to be held accountable for the law which they created. Since you have been selective in what is enforced in the ACA, I ask that you use this same power to include all elected officials, including yourself, in the health care exchange through the use of Executive Order.
- Public Law 11-148, Section 1312
- Samuel Lovett posted a blog post (govloop.com)
- Ted Cruz Proposes Bill to Fully Defund Obamacare (nicedeb.wordpress.com)
- The ACA and Part-Time Workers (aleksandreia.com)
- Is Missouri’s law requiring state licenses for ACA insurance ‘navigators’ helping the consumer or putting up barriers? (medcitynews.com)
- Thanks To Obamacare, New Yorkers’ Health Insurance Premiums Will Plunge 50 Percent (ThinkProgress)