Liz Cheney slams Congress, Enzi over health care proposal

2013-08-13T21:00:00Z 2013-08-15T16:58:14Z Liz Cheney slams Congress, Enzi over health care proposalBy KYLE ROERINK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

A new petition from Liz Cheney’s campaign calls on Sen. Mike Enzi, her opponent, to renounce an Obama administration move that could give members of Congress and their staff special treatment under the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange programs.

On Tuesday, Enzi’s camp responded that he doesn’t support special treatment for lawmakers and that few members of Congress have been working harder to defeat all of Obamacare’s provisions than Wyoming’s senior senator, who faces Cheney in a Republican primary challenge for his job.

The issue centers on the Obama administration proposal that would exempt members of Congress from getting their insurance through exchanges created under the package of healthcare reforms often called Obamacare and now part of federal law.

Since the news broke about the rule, senators and representatives around the country have been assuring constituents that lawmakers and their staffers haven’t exempted themselves from accessing federal health insurance exchanges in 2014.

The proposed exemption came from the White House’s Office of Personnel Management a week ago. The office still hasn’t clarified whether members of Congress and their staff would have to switch from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to insurance offered through an Obamacare-created insurance exchange.

The only certainty is that the Office of Personnel Management wants to pay up to 75 percent of premiums for members of Congress and their staffers, which isn’t an increase of what is currently offered, according to that office.

The office is the arm of the government that currently pays for congressional health insurance, and critics of the move say the office’s ongoing support will exempt lawmakers from using an insurance exchange as provided to all Americans under federal law.

Under federal law, lawmakers and their staffers are required to get insurance through federal health insurance exchanges in 2014 because of an amendment that requires them to do so (Enzi voted for the amendment in 2009). Currently, the employees of the executive branch have an exemption.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, called the administration’s decision illegal.

Washington lawmakers have received a backlash from their constituents for the proposed rule change, and Cheney is leading the charge in Wyoming.

On a website sponsored by her campaign, it asks citizens to sign an online petition to urge “Senator Mike Enzi and other elected officials” to renounce the “special deal” that members of Congress and staff could receive. Even though the Obama administration is proposing the change, Cheney called the move a “behind-the-scenes” deal in Congress.

“The hypocrisy is stunning but all too typical of how Congress works,” Cheney said in a media release. “Members cut special deals for themselves so they don’t feel the pain their laws inflict on the general public.”

Members of Congress didn’t exempt themselves from anything, said Coy Knobel, communications director for Enzi.

“Liz Cheney is late to the game,” Knobel said. “Senator Enzi voted for an amendment to include Congress in Obamacare in 2009. Where was she then? Because of the efforts of Senator Enzi and the others, who are in the minority, President Obama is going around Congress and selectively suspending parts of the law he finds politically indefensible. Senator Enzi and others like him who were fighting against Obamacare are the reason the Administration had to issue this ruling. This was a decision by the Administration, not Congress.”

One House lawmaker has already worked on legislation to ensure that no member of Congress will be able to skirt the provisions outlined in the health care law.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., plans to introduce legislation in the House called the No ObamaCare Subsidies for Congress Act of 2013 while others have made calls to fight the administration on the proposed rule change.

Enzi has been opposed to the Affordable Care Act since it first emerged in 2009. He’s co-sponsored legislation to fully repeal and defund the law and supported five bills to repeal taxes in the law, three bills to repeal the individual mandate, three bills to repeal the employer mandate and six others to hinder provisions of the bill.

“If you are keeping score so far the administration has given a break to businesses, Congress and insurance companies, but not to individual Americans,” Enzi said in a media release on Tuesday. “This continued disregard of the law by the administration are for purely political purposes and seek to hide the worst parts of this law until after the 2014 elections. I’ve said from the start that this law was unfair, too complex and unworkable. It’s even more critical that we stop it now in the light of the Administration’s attempts to circumvent and delay all of the unworkable and politically damaging provisions.”

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. jackel
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    jackel - August 14, 2013 8:43 pm
    .So if Enzi leaves it hurts Wyominig economy? What happens to the other Counties that don't have Coal, that impact money slides right? No more free lunch off the future generations. I could give a big Marshmellow for this story, you all know that Congress has the best HealthCare in the Nation. Get real they write the law and will continue to do so,because you don't want your so called local economic out look blemished.
    Want change then we all have to change, sending Liz home is cop-out. Grill the (carp) out of her and Enzi, but alas when the truth comes out, which it neverr will Each American cannot face the truth or handle it.
    Here is the truth whhich programs today which effect everyone would you throw out and why has government grown in Wyoming. Name a true program or department under legislator controls, not the GAME and FISH that is truly CUT.
    Hogwash just another story from the past at election time 368 days away, get off your keyeaster and do something this election people, Don't either one back into office, but No Guts so absorb the pain.
  2. Horstr
    Report Abuse
    Horstr - August 14, 2013 5:20 pm
    We should be sure to say that everything even conceivably negative about Enzi is an unfair attack, no matter what it says or how it's worded. We need to do everything conceivable to make her look bad because she may otherwise actually pose a threat. And with Enzi's astounding record, vibrant rhetoric, and critical role on the environment and energy committees essential to wyoming's economy, we can't afford to lose him. Indeed, with his strong stewardship, EPA and the rest of the federal government are incredibly fair with wyomingites, particularly our ranchers. Our coal industry here is thriving because of federal government support. Indeed, the federal govt is better to us here in Wyoming than anywhere else, and the last thing we can afford to do is change course now.
  3. TBA
    Report Abuse
    TBA - August 14, 2013 3:16 pm
    Are Wyoming voters really this stupid ? Yep they are
  4. pappy
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    pappy - August 14, 2013 1:08 pm
    Gee Liz why don't you make up another issue against Enzi. It makes you look soooo smart.
  5. brianvmax
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    brianvmax - August 14, 2013 11:58 am
    That would be answered by how many voted for obama!
  6. lllggg
    Report Abuse
    lllggg - August 14, 2013 11:41 am
    Liz, you are in the wrong state. Virginia is calling you; and you would no doubt accept these payments in Virginia. Go home, to your favorite state, Virginia.
  7. Cody Coyote
    Report Abuse
    Cody Coyote - August 14, 2013 10:12 am
    To recap what we've seen so far : Carpetbagger Liz Cheney parachutes into Teton County ( Lichtenstein-in-the-Rockies) to run against Barack Obama . She's running in the state that gave "O" the lowest voter percentage return. Running against Obama in Wyoming is not a magic carpet. Even some country rubes here in Park County who ran for city council and county commission ran against Obama. Senator J. 'Doctor No' Barrasso and Cyndy Lu Who over in the House have distinguished themselves by mudbogging down this same road already . But Lizzie has fired up her daddy's big diesel steamroller to drive right over the top of a decent Republican Senator with a lot of statewide voter approval . She's driving it pretty much to where Enzi already is.

    Are Wyoming voters really this stupid ?
  8. lana2441
    Report Abuse
    lana2441 - August 14, 2013 8:54 am
    Cheney starts the mudslinging early.She really doesn't get what matters to the people of Wyoming. Go back to Virginia where they play dirty politics like this. Wyoming doesn't need you.
  9. Salty Dawg
    Report Abuse
    Salty Dawg - August 14, 2013 8:31 am
    It's past time for people to vote for none of the above. As for Cheney calling on Enzi,it's the pot calling the kettle black.
  10. Moore
    Report Abuse
    Moore - August 14, 2013 8:04 am
    Liz, please go home.

    Enzi, vote to defund Obamacare.
  11. CCrumrine
    Report Abuse
    CCrumrine - August 13, 2013 10:06 pm
    I support Liz Cheney's call out to Congress but that is where the support ends. Mike Enzi has been at the forefront of bills challenging or repealing this distasteful disaster. John Barrasso has been a loud voice for the destruction it will cause and Cynthia Lummis has done her share in the House to vote down and defund this bill. If Liz wants to score points with the voters in Wyoming, she better make sure that she is criticizing a valid point and not just mud slinging about popular buzz word topics. All of our representatives have a voting record to back them on the topic of ObamaCare.
  12. CareyMitchell
    Report Abuse
    CareyMitchell - August 13, 2013 10:01 pm
    So if Liz Cheney were still a State Department employee, wouldn't she accept these exact same health benefits she is now decrying for Congress? Good lord her naked ambition for power is entertaining... Good stuff.
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