Congress forced its members to use Obamacare. Republicans aren't doing the same for Trumpcare

Republican congressmen may say their new health care plan is great but want to keep the perks of the old one

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 26, 2017 1:25PM (EDT)

Paul Ryan   (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Paul Ryan (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

As President Donald Trump revives Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, it is apparent that Republicans in Congress know that the new bill is a deeply undesirable one.

How? While Republicans are willing to gut popular regulations under Obamacare, they're making sure they’ll be able to keep those perks themselves.

A Republican amendment added on Tuesday to the new Trumpcare plan would allow states to waive the Affordable Care Act's ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, according to a report by Vox. Similarly, states could waive whether their residents would benefit from the Affordable Care Act's provisions protecting essential health benefits like mental health care and maternity care.

At the same time, the new amendment explicitly exempts legislators and their staffers from any potential waivers that may be implemented by their states. It does this by using a provision of Obamacare that required all legislators and their staffers to buy insurance on the same individual market that would be used by their constituents. This was a way of guaranteeing that, for better or worse, the same health care rules that they were prepared to apply to the rest of the country would also apply to themselves.

"The Obamacare section that requires legislators to buy on the individual market is section 1312(d)(3)(D)," wrote Sarah Kliff of Vox. "And if you look at the Republican amendment, and the list of who cannot be included in this waiver? It includes Section 1312(d)(3)(D)."

Perhaps coincidentally (but most likely not), on Tuesday the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus was revealed to be closer than ever to supporting the new version of the Trumpcare bill, according to a report by The Washington Post. The House Freedom Caucus was instrumental in the failure of the last repeal bill, but so far three of its leaders — Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho and Mark Meadows of North Carolina — are indicating that they are nearing being able to support the bill or already do so.


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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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