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The health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Tuesday requires members of Congress and their office staffs to buy insurance through the state-run exchanges it creates – but it may exempt staffers who work for congressional committees or for party leaders in the House and Senate.
“The American people will be appalled to learn the health care bill exempts leadership and committee staff. This special deal for unelected staff underscores everything the public detests about the arrogance of power in Washington,” Coburn said. “I tried to fix this inequity along with senators Grassley, Burr and Vitter, but Majority Leader [Harry] Reid obstructed our effort.”
Reid spokesman Jim Manley acknowledged that the bill exempts committee staff but argued that leadership staff is not excluded. As for why committee staff is excluded, Manley said that when leaders merged the health care bills from the Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, they took Coburn’s language from the HELP Committee rather than Grassley’s Finance Committee proposal because they feared Grassley’s language was so broad that it would have required “people like legislative counsel, Architect of the Capitol, etc.” to participate in the exchanges, too.