So far several rumors have been spread in an attempt to get citizens to take a stand against Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act) and ask their Congressmen to repeal the law. We've heard about the death panels that were going to leave the elderly and disabled out to dry and about healthcare rationing, both of which are myths.
The latest story that is making rounds while the threat of a government shutdown looms (again) is that members of Congress will be exempt under Obamacare, which has certainly riled up some people. After all, if Obamacare isn't good enough for Congress, it's not good enough for us, right? As it turns out, that's not quite the truth, which is a lot less interesting than the rumor that has left many outraged:
@jbendery if obamacare is good enough for regular people than it should apply to big business, unions and government. No exemptions!
— Kenneth Humphrey (@kenny_humphrey) October 1, 2013
— Midwest Dawn (@MidwestDawn) October 1, 2013
According to Republican Senator David Vitter, "President Obama recently issued a special rule for Congress and congressional staff to get a special subsidy to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange unavailable to every other American at similar income levels,” said Vitter. “That’s an exemption, plain and simple.”
There are several exemptions under Obamacare, but Congress members aren't on the list:
Individuals who cannot afford coverage.
Individuals with household income below the filing threshold.
Members of federally recognized Indian tribes.
Individuals who experience a hardship.
Individuals who experience a short coverage gap.
Members of certain religious sects.
Members of a health care sharing ministry.
Individuals who are not lawfully present.
Vitter is right that there is a special provision for Congress, but calling it an exemption doesn't fit the bill, especially not in the way most people think when they hear about Obamacare exemptions. According to The Hill, members of Congress and their staff won't be allowed to get coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (the insurance plan they're currently on) under Obamacare. Instead, they will have to purchase their insurance through the Obamacare exchange.
So, no, Congress isn't exempt under Obamacare--at least not in the way you probably thought. Should there be any provisions for Congress under the Affordable Care Act? You decide, but at least rest easy knowing that no matter what happens at midnight tonight, that things aren't quite as bad as you thought.