Honestly, I’m just posting this for posterity. It’s been well covered in the blogosphere, but after taking a stroll through some political comment threads it clearly has not trickled down: there is no congressional exemption from the Affordable Care Act. There is no Get Out Of Obamacare Free Card hidden in your congressperson’s wallet.
This is one of those rare instances where I’ll refer you to PolitiFact, judging a statement from Senator Ted Cruz (my emphasis in bold):
Cruz, reeling off signs Obamacare’s “wheels are coming off,” said the president “just granted all of Congress an exception.”
That sounds like lawmakers get to opt out of health care under the law. Quite the opposite — they’ll use new marketplaces alongside the uninsured and small businesses, just as it required. And it’s not even accurate to say they were excepted from some provision of the law: the law itself wasn’t clear.
Instead, they got a clarification about the law’s effect on contributions toward their health insurance — which they will purchase on Obamacare’s marketplaces.
In short, during the legislative process Republican Senator Chuck Grassley introduced an amendment that required lawmakers to get coverage through the new exchanges and use their standard employer contribution to pay for it. However, while the final bill signed into law included the former part of Grassley’s amendment it said nothing about the latter. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management recently proposed (PDF) a regulatory rule to reassert that original intent. Nothing more, nothing less.
If anything it’s more accurate to state that members of Congress are subjected to a process unlike any other private citizen with employer-provided insurance. Which is to say, the law forces them to jump through hoops that simply don’t exist for anyone else. Only in the mirror universe of some people’s minds does that mean Congress is exempt from complying with the Affordable Care Act.