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#1 Oct 30, 2013
Sebelius rejects enrolling in Obamacare exchanges

By Tom Howell Jr.-The Washington TimesUpdated: 12:31 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Partisan sparks were flying in Congress on Tuesday as Sebelius, President Barack Obama's top health official apologized for wasting consumers' time as they tried to use the crippled website that allows them to buy government mandated health insurance under the overhaul known as Obamacare.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in ...

Sebelius on Obamacare website:'Hold me accountable for this debacle'

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rejected calls from Republicans Wednesday to enroll in one of the Obamacare marketplaces, saying she is happy with the coverage she gets as a federal employee.

Mrs. Sebelius said she is among the “95 percent” of Americans who hold employer-sponsored coverage, so she would not be eligible to enter the exchange.

“I think it’s illegal for me,” she said.

Rep. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican and member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told Mrs. Sebelius he rejected his own coverage as a member of Congress and enrolled in a plan in the individual market, but has been informed he’s losing that coverage because of the health law. He asked her why she hasn’t subjected herself to that same experience.

He drew applause for his challenge.

Other lawmakers followed up on his challenge later, and finally Mrs. Sebelius said she would “gladly join the exchange” if she didn’t already have her federal plan.

Whether lawmakers and cabinet officials should be subjected to the exchanges has been a constant subplot of the debate around Obamacare.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, inserted an amendment to the original law that calls on members of Congress and their staffs to enter the exchanges, even though they are insured by the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.

The Obama administration issued a rule that calls for denizens of Capitol Hill to enter the exchanges, yet keep the subsidy that pays for up to 75 percent of their premiums.

Republicans, led by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, have argued this “exemption” for powerful national leaders should be rolled back.

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