GOP Congressman: Not 'Unfair' for Him to Get Tax Subsidy for Obamacare

October 23, 2013 - 9:29 AM

Joe Barton

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) told C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" on Wednesday that as a member of Congress, he'll be forced to get his own insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, and that he thinks taxpayers should continue helping him pay his premiums.

Members of Congress, like Barton, get paid $174,000 per year, and, as Barton noted on C-SPAN, he also gets a subsidy of more than $10,800 per year to pay for his health insurance.

Americans in the private sector forced to get health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges will only get a taxpayer subsidy if they earn less than 400 percent of the poverty level. For someone earning $174,000 per year like a congressman to get a normal Obamacare subsidy they would have to have at least 9 dependent children.

However, as it is currently planned to be implemented, under a rule issued by the White House Office of Personnel Management, members of Congress earning $174,000 will still get the sort of $10,800 in taxpayer subsidies to buy health insurance in exchanges that Barton is getting now.

“In terms of my personal health care, right now myself and my family are covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield Plan of Texas, which is available to any federal worker in Texas. I pay $433 a month, and my employer—i.e. the people of the United States--pay a little over $900 a month, so the total plan is about $1,300-$1,400 a month. I am paying $433 and the taxpayers are paying a little over $900. I lose that in January.

"As a member of Congress, I am mandated to go into the public exchange in the District of Columbia, in the small business exchange, which right now doesn’t exist. And I don’t know if there will be any options at all. I can’t participate in any plan in Texas. I have to participate in the plan up here in the District of Columbia. And one of the things that’s been controversial is, will there will be any kind of premiums support.

"And the Office of Personnel Management did rule back in July that there could be. There have been a number of proposals in the Congress to eliminate that premium support. And that is a question that is, I guess you would have to say, is still outstanding. But as someone who has been covered in the workplace by an employer-sponsored health-care plan, I don’t think it is unfair even in Obamacare to still be covered through some sort of a workplace plan. I do think the question of the level of premium support is a fair question."

Barton says he voted against Obamacare, and later voted to repeal it and delay it -- and now he plans to introduce a bill that would make it voluntary for a year.

"Obamacare is well-intentioned," he said, especially in helping people who don't have insurance or people with pre-existing conditions. "But for the vast, vast majority of Americans it's a very bad deal and it will ultimately fail. The question is not if it's going to fail, it's when it's going to fail."