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April 26, 2017

S.J. Republican's amendment: Members of Congress, staffers get to keep Obamacare provisions

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement provided by Rep. Tom MacArthur's office.

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Republicans in the U.S. House have apparently included a loophole in their new health care amendment to exempt members of Congress and their staffs.

The amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow them to keep provisions of the Affordable Care Act, even as they would be repealing them for the rest of the country, according to Vox.

The amendment was authored by U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, who represents voters in New Jersey's Burlington and Ocean counties. (The amendment can be viewed here on the site)

Vox reported:

Introduced Tuesday night, the amendment would allow states to waive the ObamaCare ban on charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums or the requirement to cover essential health benefits like maternity care, mental health services, or emergency room visits — except it would not apply to members of Congress or their staffs.

"A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case. Members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these ObamaCare regulations."

On Wednesday, the congressman's office provided the following statement:

"Congressman MacArthur does not believe Members of Congress or their staff should receive special treatment and is working with House Leadership to make absolutely clear that Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same rules, provisions, and protections as all other Americans."

Under the proposed GOP amendment, states could elect to waive Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions. As a result, insurers could again charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people, under specific circumstances.

But House Republicans seem to think that would be a bad thing for their own families and those of their staff.

The deal was brokered over the past two weeks by Vice President Mike Pence, hard-right Freedom Caucus head Mark Meadows and MacArthur, who co-chairs the centrist Tuesday Group, according to UPI.

Read the entire story on Vox.