Sebelius Misstates Obamacare Rules

She said people who get insurance through work can’t use Obamacare. They can.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday about the troubled launch of the website.
National Journal
Sam Baker
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sam Baker
Oct. 30, 2013, 11:26 a.m.

Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us mis­rep­res­en­ted part of the Af­ford­able Care Act on Wed­nes­day as she test­i­fied be­fore a House com­mit­tee.

Se­beli­us told law­makers it would be “il­leg­al” for her to sign up for cov­er­age through the law’s in­sur­ance mar­ket­places be­cause she re­ceives health be­ne­fits through her job.

“If I have af­ford­able cov­er­age in my work­place, I’m not eli­gible to go in­to the mar­ket­place. That’s part of the law,” she said.

But people who have em­ploy­er-based cov­er­age are, in fact, al­lowed to de­cline that cov­er­age and shop through the ex­changes. They simply can’t re­ceive tax sub­sidies to help cov­er the cost of their premi­ums, said Tim Jost, a law pro­fess­or at Wash­ing­ton & Lee Uni­versity.

Se­beli­us her­self might still be in­eligible for the ex­changes be­cause she’s on Medi­care ““ but that’s not the reas­on she gave at Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing.

The ques­tion of which polit­ic­al of­fi­cials will go in­to the ex­changes is a charged one that of­ten misses the point of Obama­care. The law was primar­ily de­signed to serve the in­di­vidu­al mar­ket ““ people who don’t get in­sur­ance through their job and buy it on their own, in­stead.

Se­beli­us noted that she has health in­sur­ance through her job ““ the same cov­er­age avail­able to all fed­er­al em­ploy­ees who have health care be­ne­fits, in­clud­ing mem­bers of Con­gress. And the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, like al­most all large em­ploy­ers, cov­ers a sig­ni­fic­ant part of its em­ploy­ees’ premi­ums.

Mem­bers of Con­gress and their staffs must pur­chase cov­er­age through the ex­changes, but the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment can still cov­er its nor­mal share of their premi­ums.

By ask­ing Se­beli­us to buy cov­er­age through the ex­changes, Re­pub­lic­ans would be ask­ing her to pay her en­tire premi­um on her own, des­pite hav­ing ac­cess to a tra­di­tion­al em­ploy­er-based policy.

What We're Following See More »
Bill Murray Crashes White House Briefing Room
10 hours ago

In town to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center, Bill Murray casually strolled into the White House Briefing Room this afternoon. A spokesman said he was at the executive mansion for a chat with President Obama, his fellow Chicagoan.

Morning Consult Poll: Clinton Decisively Won Debate
13 hours ago

"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."

Trump Draws Laughs, Boos at Al Smith Dinner
1 days ago

After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."

McMullin Leads in New Utah Poll
1 days ago

Evan McMul­lin came out on top in a Emer­son Col­lege poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clin­ton took third with 24%. Gary John­son re­ceived 5% of the vote in the sur­vey.

Quinnipiac Has Clinton Up by 7
1 days ago

A new Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll finds Hillary Clin­ton lead­ing Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” van­ished from the uni­versity’s early Oc­to­ber poll. A new PPRI/Brook­ings sur­vey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a vir­tu­al dead heat, with Trump tak­ing 41% of the vote to Clin­ton’s 40% in a four-way match­up.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.