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If ObamaCare is such a good idea, why are lawmakers working to find exemptions?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 25th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Health care reform or "ObamaCare" is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's White House. The measure intends to make health care affordable for all, making a level playing field of the nation's health care system. However -- Congressional leaders in both parties over the past several months have engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of the plan.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) The talks over exemptions involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), along with other top lawmakers. The talks are being kept close to the vest, as lawmakers are deeply aware of the potential political fallout.

Potential exemptions would give carve-outs from ObamaCare to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. "Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump or nothing is going to get done," an anonymous source says.

If Capitol Hill leaders move forward with the plan, they will certainly be denounced as hypocrites by the American public. By removing themselves from a key ObamaCare component, lawmakers and aides would be held to a different standard than the people who put them in office.

The traditional boosters of ObamaCare, democrats would be sure to suffer the most. Republicans would undoubtedly attempt to shred them over any attempt to escape coverage by it, unless Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) give Democrats cover by backing it.

The chief problem under ObamaCare is that members and aides set to enter the exchanges would have their health insurance premiums subsidized by their employer, i.e., the federal government.

If not, aides and lawmakers in both parties fear that staffers - especially low-paid junior aides - could be hit with thousands of dollars in new health care costs, prompting them to find employment elsewhere. In addition, older senior staffers could also retire or jump to the private sector rather than face a big financial penalty.

Long-term lawmakers are also concerned about the hit to their own wallets.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is worried about the provision. The No. 2 House Democrat has personally raised the issue with Boehner and other party leaders, sources said.

"Mr. Hoyer is looking at this policy, like all other policies in the Affordable Care Act, to ensure they're being implemented in a way that's workable for everyone, including members and staff," said Katie Grant, Hoyer's communications director.

Among the proposals tendered is exempting lawmakers and aides; another proposal exempts aides alone.

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