The Slatest

Republicans Continue Painting PR Masterpiece by Trying to Exempt Selves From Obamacare Repeal

Rep. Mark Meadows, the leader of the Freedom Caucus, at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

One oft-repeated number regarding the Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill, the American Health Care Act, is 17. That’s the percentage of respondents to a March Quinnipiac poll who said they supported the bill shortly before GOP leaders pulled it from consideration in the House. And it’s a number that Republicans trying to revive the bill are set on driving even lower, apparently: The party’s newly revised AHCA not only eliminates some of Obamacare’s most popular coverage protections, which is a dubious enough move on its own from a political standpoint, but also requires that insurers continue guaranteeing those protections to members of Congress.

Vox health care guru Sarah Kliff broke the story Tuesday night, and the details involve an amendment in the revised bill creating waivers that would allow individual states to ignore Obamacare’s requirement that insurance plans cover “essential benefits” and pre-existing conditions:

If congressional aides lived in a state that decided to waive these protections, the aides who were sick could be vulnerable to higher premiums than the aides who are healthy. Their benefits package could get skimpier as Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement may no longer apply either.

This apparently does not sound appealing, because the Republican amendment includes the members of Congress and their staff as a protected group who cannot be affected by this amendment’s terms.

Today, New Jersey Rep. Tom McArthur, who’d proposed the amendment, announced that he actually doesn’t want to guarantee himself the protection he’s eliminating for everyone else:

He’s sorry and he’s trying to remove it.