Fact Check: Is Congress Exempt From the G.O.P. Health Bill?

Fact Check: Is Congress Exempt From the G.O.P. Health Bill?


Why the Health Care Bill Passed the House This Time

The House on Thursday passed a new version of a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act after the first one failed to get enough Republican support in March. The bill still needs to pass the Senate before becoming law.

By ELSA BUTLER, A.J. CHAVAR and MARK SCHEFFLER on Publish Date May 4, 2017.

Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.

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WASHINGTON — Accusations of hypocrisy greeted the House passage of the amended American Health Care Act on Thursday, as people were outraged — erroneously — by claims that the bill does not apply to Congress.

It is true that an early version of the bill exempted lawmakers from its provisions. But a subsequent piece of legislation, which the House approved, eliminated the exemption, effectively nullifying that claim.

Timothy S. Jost, a health care expert at Washington and Lee University School of Law, said the exemption “was done for arcane budget reasons and many did not realize it.” He was one of the first people to notice the quirk.

The first bill that was offered, in March, failed to reach a vote. It was amended by Representative Tom MacArthur, Republican of New Jersey, to allow states to apply for waivers to Affordable Care Act regulations if they offered other options for health care.

Mr. MacArthur’s amendment also specified that the part of the current health law that requires federal or state exchange insurance for lawmakers and their staff could not be waived. In short, it essentially exempted Congress from the Republican bill’s weakened requirements for essential health benefits and protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

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