Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — who has relied on taxpayer-funded health care since 2011 — plans to offer a constitutional amendment that would prohibit tax dollars from subsidizing the health care of government employees and require all federal workers to purchase insurance through the exchanges included in the Affordable Care Act.
The proposal comes as the senator still appears to be enrolled in government subsidized health care coverage.
“My amendment says basically that everybody including Justice Roberts — who seems to be such a fan of Obamacare — gets it too,” Paul told the Daily Caller. “See, right now, Justice Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer,” Paul said. “And if he likes Obamacare so much, I’m going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts.”
Under current law, lawmakers and some of their aides will be required to drop their existing health care coverage in the tax-subsidized Federal Health Benefits Program (FEHB) and enroll in the insurance exchanges at the core of the health law beginning on Oct 1. Though Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — the author of the amendment responsible for the shift — had initially stipulated that Congressional employees “use their existing employer contribution” to buy insurance, the final law did not specifically mention the role of the employer, leaving regulators concerned that the language could prohibit the government from contributing to the insurance costs of Congressional employees and leave poorly-paid aides responsible for the full cost of coverage.
In August, after the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) ruled that the Congress can apply their employer contributions towards their exchange plans, Republicans pledged to forfeit the contribution and fight to undo “special exemption” for government employees. While the federal government will be the only big employer to subsidize coverage in the exchanges for several years, other large businesses could begin contributing to employee health care through the marketplaces in 2017.
The federal government currently pays for approximately 75 percent of Paul’s health care costs and the senator has advocated for expanding the Congressional system. In March of 2012, he co-sponsored legislation to expand the FEHBP to Medicare enrollees, highlighting in a press conference for the plan that “We’re going to offer a plan that would give all seniors citizens in the country the same Congressional health care plan that we have.” “Our health care plan, the Congressional health care plan, or the federal employee health care plan, is 75 percent subsidized,” he bragged.
Paul’s office would not respond to multiple requests for comment.