The old adage "if you can't beat em' join em," does not apply in Rep. Steve Stockman's, R-Texas, office.
After a long crusade to defund, delay and dismantle Obamacare, Stockman's office hasn't surrendered the fight. Tuesday, the staff "unanimously" voted against enrolling in the Washington, D.C., health care exchange. No one on staff nor the congressman plan on signing up for the exchanges. The office would not say how the congressman currently gets health care.
"We will not use taxpayer money to bail out a program that subsidizes abortion," Stockman said in a statement. "Obamacare is a failing Ponzi scheme that can only work if it overcharges young people and denies care to older people. Obamacare is not health care and we shouldn't bail it out with tax dollars."
On the House floor, in his district, and on social media, Stockman has made no secret of his dissatisfaction with the president's health care bill. He's argued the reason Republicans have lost the war on Obamacare is because Democrats have "people in wheelchairs" at press conferences. He joked on Twitter this week that he would go for Halloween as "Obamacare savings" meaning he would not be "showing up." And he called for Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to be removed from her post because of glitches plaguing the online health care marketplace.
So if the staff won't be on the exchanges, how will they get their health insurance?
Stockman's spokesman Donny Ferguson says the staff will stay on the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan, the current provider of congressional health insurance.
No decisions have been made yet about whether the staff will accept health care subsidies for that coverage.
But keeping their current plan may not be possible.
In 2014, congressional staff members will be required to sign up for exchanges under the Affordable Care Act..
According to FactCheck.org, "starting in 2014, members of Congress and their staffs can no longer get their health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, as they have in the past."
Ferguson told U.S. News "we have been told we are grandfathered," referring to a section of the Affordable Care Act that forbids the government from requiring people who already have insurance through their employer from having to enroll on the exchanges. It is unclear if that provision will apply, however, to those on Capitol Hill.
"Every other American who has enjoyed employer-based coverage will get to keep their existing plan come January 1. If Congress intended to subject itself and staff to the same rules as every other American, then Congressional staff should be able to retain their existing coverage as well," David Farber, a health care lawyer and policy expert, argued in an August op-ed on the topic. "The agency has clear authority to make this happen. "