House Republicans voted unanimously to remove an exemption in the American Health Care Act that would have kept certain Obamacare protections for members of Congress and their staff.
The loophole — which includes protections for preexisting conditions and coverage of essential health benefits — was first reported last week by Vox’s Sarah Kliff. Meanwhile, the latest version of the American Health Care Act would let states opt out of requiring insurers to offer these benefits.
This loophole was first included in an amendment of 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.
The exemption still requires at least 60 votes in the Senate and will need to survive a filibuster. Congressional Republicans don’t think they can get the exemption through the reconciliation process they are relying on to replace the health care bill, which only requires 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.