House Republicans will vote on a health care bill today that lets states get rid of some of Obamacare’s requirements, such as preventing insurers from charging people higher prices based on preexisting conditions — but it keeps those protections in place for insurance plans that cover members of Congress and their staff.
The loophole would mean that legislators could keep certain Obamacare protections — including the protections for preexisting conditions and a requirement to cover “essential health benefits” — that states could relax for other insurance plans covering Obamacare enrollees.
The loophole was first included in an amendment to the American Health Care Act offered by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) last week. After Vox reported on the exemption, MacArthur offered legislation to fix it and make Congress subject to the same rules as the rest of health law enrollees.
A leadership aide says the House will vote on the bill to close the loophole today, around the same time they vote on the American Health Care Act.
The bill to fix the exemption, however, would need 60 votes to pass the Senate and overcome a filibuster. Congressional Republicans do not believe they can run that bill through the reconciliation process that they will use for the overall health care bill, which only need 51 votes to pass.
This means there is a decent chance that even if the American Health Care Act passed the Senate, the fix to close the loophole for legislators still might not. It’s hard to see Democrats offering up the eight votes Republicans would need to get to 60 to address this problem in the bill.