(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an Obamacare critic, has signed up for health insurance on the District of Columbia exchange, and he's accepted a $10,000 taxpayer subsidy to defray the cost of his family's health insurance.
"It's an employer contribution," Rubio was quoted as saying on Monday. "It's available to every employee of the federal government."
But as CNSNews.com has reported, some members of Congress are refusing the subsidy, saying it's not right for them to get a perk that is unavailable to many Americans in the private sector.
Under a deal arranged by the federal Office of Personnel Management in August, members of Congress -- who earn at least $174,000 -- will be able to keep the approximate $10,000 subsidy that they received under their previous federal health care plan. But the same deal is not available to Americans in the private sector.
For example, Americans in the private sector who buy health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges get a federal subsidy (a tax credit) only if their income/family size puts them below 400% of the poverty threshold, or $94,200 for a family of four. If they surpass that 400% level, they do not get a subsidy.
Asked why he didn’t follow the lead of others who voluntarily gave up the perk, Rubio said: “Well, again, I’m going to comply with the laws the way they’re written right now. If they’re prepared to change the law for everyone, I’ll vote for that.”
In accepting the subsidy, Rubio joins Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who told CNSNews.com there's "no question" that members of Congress are entitled to taxpayer help in purchasing their health insurance. Rangel said he considers the subsidies to be part of Congress' "overall compensation."
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) recently told C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" that as a member of Congress, he'll be forced to get his own insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, and he thinks taxpayers should continue helping him pay his premiums.
Those rejecting the taxpayer subsidy include Rep. Louis Gohmert: “It’s not right,” Gohmert told CNSNews.com. “I appreciated getting the subsidy as every other federal employee, but when America has had their insurances ripped away from them, when they have had their employer contribution ripped away, I can’t take a subsidy under those circumstances.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he will sign up for Obamacare through the exchange in Ohio, where he will not be eligible for a subsidy. "Each member can make their own decision on this, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to take the employer subsidies, so I’m just going to opt out — not opt out, but I’m going to do it back in Ohio versus going through the D.C. shop and then having to write a check back to the Treasury each month.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), in a message on his website, said he also will enroll in his state exchange and forego the taxpayer-funded subsidy: "I don't think Members of Congress should get a special deal," said Graham. "Obamacare is being pushed on the American people and we should live under it just like everyone else."