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Obama's Health Care

March 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The health care bill that is going to be signed into law tomorrow requires all Members of Congress and congressional staffers to ditch their cushy Federal Employee Health Benefits insurance plans and buy insurance on the new health care exchanges. They would have the same insurance options available to them as everyone else in the individual insurance market, although they are earning more than the average citizen and can probably afford better plans.

Here’s the text:

Sen. Charles Grassley [R, IA] wants the President, Vice President, cabinet members and top White House staff to give up their FEHB insurance too. He’s going to submit an amendment to the reconciliation bill containing the “fixes” to the health care bill that is going to be debated in the Senate tomorrow that would require White House officials to get insurance on the exchanges as well.

“It’s pretty unbelievable that the president and his closest advisors remain untouched by the reforms they pushed for the rest of the country,” Grassley said in a statement. “In other words, President Obama’s health care reform won’t apply to President Obama.”

Grassley’s amendment won’t be eligible under Byrd Rule, which requires all budget reconciliation provisions to more than incidentally affect the deficit. Still, the Byrd Rule objections could be waived with 60 votes, meaning at least 19 Democrats would have to side with the Republicans to adopt the amendment.

Democrats are trying to avoid changing the reconcliation bill in the Senate — either through amendments or objectons under the Byrd Rule — so that it does not have to go back to the House for another contentious vote. Of all the amendments Republicans could propose, this is probably the most likely one to pick off the Democratic votes to pass. It’s a bit like the Republican motion to recommit that was offered to the health care bill in the House last night that sought to divide Democrats on the issue of abortion and sink the bill — even though many Democrats are going to want to vote for this, Democratic leaders are going to want to want to hold their caucus together against it for the sake of protecting the overall bill.


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