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GOP House member says he’ll fix the exemption for Congress in his health bill

Congressional Showdown As Government Shutdown Looms Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

A Republican legislator has vowed to close a loophole in his Obamacare replacement proposal, following Vox’s reporting on the exemption Tuesday night.

The amendment offered by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) would exempt health insurance plans held by legislators and their staff from key Obamacare repeal plans.

Congressional staff are currently required to buy coverage through the Obamacare marketplaces. The amendment offered by Rep. MacArthur would ensure that Hill staff continue to have access to Obamacare programs, like a ban on discriminating based on preexisting conditions, while other enrollees could lose those policies if their state applied for a waiver.

On Wednesday morning, Rep. MacArthur issued a statement saying he would work to eliminate this exemption:

Congressman MacArthur does not believe Members of Congress or their staff should receive special treatment and is working with House Leadership to make absolutely clear that Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same rules, provisions, and protections as all other Americans.

Update: An aide in MacArthur’s office tells me that the provision was inserted at the request of the Senate Budget Committee, in order to comply with the rules of Senate reconciliation. An aide with the Senate Budget Committee, however, says that is untrue.

“We did not write it, did not draft it, and did not add it,” the aide said. While the Senate Budget Committee has been advising House Republicans on some technical provisions in their bill, the aide said they were not making any policy suggestions – including this Congressional exemption.