Rushville Republican

October 1, 2013

Too many Americans are totally disengaged

By Paul W. Barada
Rushville Republican

---- — Can you believe that the Congress, including Republicans, exempted themselves from Obamacare? They, after all, are the ones who passed it in the first place for the rest of us. The hypocrisy of their action is truly staggering, and where is the public outrage?

Here are a few excerpts from an online Reuters article by David Lawder, which appeared on Aug. 7 that should help explain exactly what the Congress is up to: “In a ruling issued on Wednesday, [August 7th], U.S. lawmakers and their staffs will continue to receive a federal contribution toward the health insurance that they must purchase through soon-to-open exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.”

“The decision by the Office of Personnel Management, with Obama’s blessing, will prevent the largely unintended loss of healthcare benefits for 535 members of the Senate and House of Representatives and thousands of Capitol Hill staff.”

“When Congress passed the health reform law known as Obamacare in 2010, an amendment required that lawmakers and their staff members purchase health insurance through the online exchanges that the law created. They would lose generous coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.”

“But it soon became apparent the [law] contained no language that allowed federal contributions toward their health plans that cover about 75 percent of the premium costs.”

“But Wednesday’s proposed rule from the OPM, the federal government’s human resources agency, means that Congress will escape the most onerous impact of law as it was written.”

“The OPM said the federal contributions will be allowed to continue for exchange-purchased plans for lawmakers and their staffs, ensuring that those working on Capitol Hill will effectively get the same health contributions as millions of other federal workers who keep their current plan.”

“Republican Senator David Vitter vowed to reverse the OPM ruling to ensure that no members of Congress, neither Capitol Hill staff nor Obama administration appointees get any federal subsidies for health insurance purchased on Obamacare health exchanges.”

“These recent maneuverings inside the beltway are precisely why the American people rightly despise Congress,” said Vitter, of Louisiana. “Perhaps if White House appointees and Congress have to live under these same Obamacare rules, things would be changed quickly for the better.”

It’s not as though members of Congress and their staffs don’t have to buy insurance, it’s just that they get to keep their federal subsidy of 75 percent of the cost of health insurance. In other words, they’re only spending twenty-five cents on the dollar for their coverage. The best portion of the previously quoted excerpts, at least in my opinion, is as follows, “…as millions of other federal workers who keep their current plan.” Who do you suppose is paying for those subsidies? We are! With all the exemptions that have been handed out to organized labor and all sorts of other special constituencies, it makes one wonder if anybody is actually going to have to sign up for Obamacare!

But can anyone imagine anything more hypocritical than the legislative body with the power to make millions of us buy health insurance, in effect, exempting itself from having to comply with the same provisions of the law that the rest of us do? I can’t. Sometimes it makes one wonder why we elected these people to represent us in the Congress of the United States. How out of touch can these people we elected be from the real world and the real people who voted for them? I am so dumbfounded by this level of blatant hypocrisy that I hardly know what else to write!

This is the legislation, you’ll recall, that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once said Congress would have to pass first to find out what’s in it? If she was being serious, that should have been our first clue that Obamacare wasn’t going to be a good thing! Nobody passes legislation without having read it and, one would hope, understanding it. How irresponsible is it of our elected representatives to pass a major life-changing piece of legislation without knowing what its impact is going to be on millions of people? And what do most of us do about it? Nothing. Oh, the Tea Party people and a few other politically active groups are raising Cain about the drastic changes coming to the delivery of healthcare, but most people either don’t know or don’t care what’s going to happen when Obamacare really begins to kick in.

Unfortunately, way too many Americans are totally disengaged from what’s going on in our nation’s capital – which I sometimes think is the way most professional politicians prefer it. I’m afraid it’s the arrogance of power and the fulfillment of what P.T. Barnum said a very long time ago, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” I sincerely hope the American people aren’t being suckers regarding healthcare.

That’s –30—for this week.