- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin threaten to subpoena the federal Office of Personnel Management Thursday after it failed to pony up documents related to Congress‘ treatment under Obamacare.

The 2010 health law requires federal lawmakers and their staff members to use its web-based exchanges if they want to get covered through their jobs.

Yet Mr. Johnson said the personnel office never fully explained why it decided to let federal lawmakers and their staffs keep an employer-based subsidy that defrays their health premiums, so long as they use the District of Columbia’s small-business exchange.

Regular Americans on the exchanges must hope that Obamacare’s income-based subsidies are sufficient.

“The American people have a right to know how and why OPM exempted Members of Congress from the full impact of Obamacare,” Mr. Johnson, the Republican chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

He said if OPM doesn’t provide requested paperwork by Oct. 18, he “may be forced to consider the use of compulsory process.”

“We have received Senator Johnson’s letter and we are reviewing,” OPM said in a brief statement.

Congress‘ so-called “exemption” from Obamacare is the result of a provision forged by Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, when Congress drafted the health care law.

The “Grassley amendment” dared congressional lawmakers to enroll themselves and their staffs into the state-based health exchanges set up by the law.

Democrats accepted the challenge, even though lawmakers and staff received employer-sponsored health coverage — hardly the overhaul’s target audience.

Implementing the measure proved messy. Members feared staff would leave if their health costs rose under the provision, yet carving out Capitol Hill from a law with sweeping ramifications for regular Americans, who were now mandated to acquire health insurance, would not sit well with constituents.

The Obama administration issued regulations in 2013 that let lawmakers and staff use the D.C. portal to keep the federal subsidy, which pays up to 75 percent of their health premiums.

Former Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana made it his personal mission to probe how Congress‘ carve-out was devised, though he’s no longer in Congress.

Mr. Johnson said he joined Mr. Vitter’s request for information last year, but still hasn’t receive an adequate response.

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