In a letter today to House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Utah Fourth District Congressman Jim Matheson expressed disapproval after reporting of high level closed door negations aimed at exempting Members of Congress and their staffs from requirements set forth in Obamacare.
"Members of Congress are expected to live by the laws of this country, not above them," said Matheson in his letter.
Specifically, Matheson opposes creating carve outs for Members of Congress or their staff, insisting that instead, Washington should be working on bipartisan solutions to address the rising costs in healthcare.
In the letter, Matheson expressed to leadership that he will object to any efforts on the part of either party to make exemptions for Congress saying "I would suggest the appropriate course of action would be to make real, bipartisan improvements to the legislation itself, in order to provide more certainty both in terms of how the exchanges will be structured and to their cost."
The full text of the letter to the House leadership is below.
Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi, Leader Cantor and Congressman Hoyer,
It has been reported that there have been recent discussions among both House and Senate leadership regarding exemptions for lawmakers and the staff of House and Senate personal offices in the insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
I write today to express my strong disapproval of these negotiations. As you will recall, during the debate on the Affordable Care Act it was specifically decided that Members of Congress and their staff would be included in any programmatic changes that would affect our constituents.
As you all know, I opposed the Affordable Care Act legislation throughout the process, both on the Committee level and before the full House. I felt then, and continue to believe, that the legislation fails to address the fundamental causes of cost increases in our healthcare system and therefore it will not make affordable care more accessible to the average American.
I continue to believe the Affordable Care Act needs serious improvement and have both supported and sponsored measures to improve the legislation.
It is unacceptable that leadership of both parties even consider requesting Congressional exemptions because of concerns over health care cost increases to individual members or to our staff. We are expected to live by the laws of this country, not above them.
I would suggest the appropriate course of action would be to make real, bipartisan improvements to the legislation itself, in order to provide more certainty both in terms of how the exchanges will be structured, and to their cost.
Please know that I will have to respectfully object to any procedural efforts on the part of either party to make exemptions for Congress or its employees without a full up-or-down vote of the House of Representatives.
I appreciate your service on behalf of your constituents and our country. I know these are times where challenges are many and bipartisan collaboration can seem a distant memory. I stand ready to work constructively with each of you, and with both parties, to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act.