Speaker Paul D. Ryan has put a lot of thought into the health care bill moving through the House, but one thing that hasn’t crossed his mind is how members of Congress will get their health care.
The 2010 health care overhaul required lawmakers and their staff to enroll in health care programs created by the law as a means to have them understand the effects of it. But after questions arose, the Office of Personnel Management ruled that members and staff could enroll in the District of Columbia’s small business exchange to maintain the employers’ contribution toward health care costs.
The House GOP legislation, which is expected to be debated on the floor next week, does not address the question of how members of Congress or their staff should get access to health insurance.
“I haven’t given thought to that. I don’t know the answer,” Ryan said at his weekly news conference Thursday.
He told reporters that he feels Republicans, working “hand in glove” with the White House, have been making great strides toward getting a health care bill that can pass through Congress.
“We are very pleased with where we are because we are on track and on schedule with where [we] intended to be this whole time,” the Wisconsin Republican said.
Ryan said that as the House advances the reconciliation measure for partially repealing and replacing the health care law, the first of a three-phased effort to overhaul the health care system, the chamber will “immediately, concurrently” begin moving legislation that is part of the third phase.
If the bill does get through the House — and that is still uncertain given the widespread concerns within the GOP conference — it is likely to face trouble in the Senate, but Ryan didn’t seem worried about the opposition in the upper chamber.
“The senators who have been critical of the House bill, none of them have called me,” he said.
“Senators are not helpless with respect to the House,” he added, noting that they are “free to amend that bill when it goes over there.”
Ryan also defended the GOP measure against the Congressional Budget Office report released Monday that estimated 24 million more people will be without insurance in 10 years than otherwise would under the current law. He said the CBO cannot “score” the second- and third-phase components of the GOP plan.
Asked specifically about the CBO’s projection that insurance premiums would continue to go up, just less than under the current law, Ryan said, “It will take time for markets to stand themselves up and offer new products in the deregulated market setting.”