Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has vowed to end Congress’ exemption from Obamacare on his first day in office.
According to a statement from Walker’s press department to the American Media Institute, “President Walker would issue an executive order to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Secretary of Health & Human Services to undertake rulemaking and issue guidance to reverse the Obama Administration's unlawful interpretation.”
Based on this approach, Walker’s statement said, Congress does not need to vote on or approve an executive order.
"Once they [Congress and its staff] are susceptible to the Obamacare premium increases that so many Americans have been under over the past few years, I have a pretty good idea that's going to light a fire under Congress to get things moving right away," Walker said.
Walker’s campaign said his health care plan, called The Day One Patient Freedom Plan, would replace Obamacare’s government-centric approach with a market-driven system that works for all Americans. Walker’s plan would represent a trillion-dollar tax cut, the largest pro-growth tax cut in nearly 40 years.
The plan would be paid for, according to Walker’s camp, through reforms to the employee health insurance exclusion and improvements to Medicaid.
Furthermore, Walker’s plan would eliminate the provision that calls for health care purchasers to buy health care within their individual states. This, Walker argues, would spur market competition, keeping costs competitive.
Tim Jost, a law professor with Washington & Lee and a co-author of “Health Law,” said he has heard very few complaints from congressional staff and said they are the ones who would suffer most from an Obamacare repeal.
“My impression is many members of Congress are over 65 and on Medicare, have personal wealth that would allow them to pay for their own insurance, or have spousal coverage so they’re not dependent on Obamacare, but their staff members are. It’s kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face. But, politically, it’s the right thing for Walker to say.”
Jost went on to explain that while Walker could issue an executive order, depending upon the complexion of Congress, the order could be legally challenged.
Hadley Heath Manning, a senior policy analyst with the Independent Women’s Voice in Washington, D.C., supports Walker’s plan.
“It’s good to talk about Obamacare and health care options, it’s been said the GOP doesn’t have any positive plans when it comes to health care,” she said. “We think it’s a positive thing to hear anything about ending this [Congressional] exemption. It’s unfair that only those in a certain group benefit from Obamacare without the benefit of a vote and, in a way, it shields them from a law they passed.”
When asked if Congressional staff would lose its health care coverage if Walker were to end the Congressional exemption, Manning said, “It’s hard to have sympathy for those who are responsible for Obamacare. This [losing health care coverage] is an experience that many American have gone through. Maybe it would open their eyes if they had to experience what everyone else has.”