Senator Chuck Grassley says the Senate’s Democratic leaders are trying to protect their staff from having to use the government-run “insurance exchanges” that are created by the health care reform bill being debated in the senate. Grassley, a Republican, voted against the heath care reform plan that emerged this fall from the Senate Finance Committee.
But Grassley successfully added an amendment to the bill which would force all members of congress and their staff to use the so-called “public option” to get their health insurance. Grassley plans to offer a broader amendment this month during debate in the full senate. Grassley wants all senators, members of congress and their staff, as well as the president and all White House staff to be forced to use the “public option” if it’s included in the final package.
“I intend to move forward in a more aggressive way than I did in committee — and we were successful in committee and I think we’ll be more successful on the floor — to make sure that congressmen, and we’ll start including the executive branch political appointees, to see that they’re covered by the public option,” Grassley says, “if we’re going to have a public option.” No word, yet, on when debate of Grassley’s proposal may occur.
Grassley plans to vote against the entire bill, in its final form, if it includes the so-called “public option.” “When the government’s a competitor, a regulator and a funder, then it’s not a very fair competitor,” Grassley says. “It tends to be a predator.” Grassley says it was “inexcusable” for the senate’s Democratic leaders to edit out provisions in the health care reform bill that called for all congressional staff to get their health insurance through the “public exchanges” that’d be created by the bill.
Grassley’s amendment would require that all political appointees in the executive branch of government would have to get their insurance through the ‘public exchanges” as well. That means cabinet secretaries like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and their top staff would have to get their insurance through the public “exchanges.”