An Oregon man has circulated a petition demanding that if Congress is willing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, its members should also be willing to forego their own health care subsidies.
On Thursday afternoon, the Change.org petition had received more than 432,000 signatures, with a goal of 500,000 before it will be sent off to congressional leadership.
In the petition’s description, Daniel Jimenez, of Portland, writes that his father had cancer and passed away as a result. “My dad had a job at the time, but his employer did not cover him, and without coverage, he avoided going to the doctor until it was too late.”
Now, Jimenez is concerned that if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, many people will be left in a position similar to his father’s.
The Republican plan to repeal and replace the health care law could leave 24 million people without health insurance, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.
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“Like millions of people who are panicking about possible changes to their health insurance, I’m concerned the people elected to represent us won’t have to live with the consequences or expenses that the rest of us may have to face soon,” Jimenez writes on Change.org. “I want lawmakers to commit to treating themselves just like those who will be impacted by ACA repeal or replacement.”
It’s a common misconception that senators and representatives have free health care, but they do receive significant government subsidies.
According to a fact check by Snopes, before the Affordable Care Act members of Congress had health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHBP. When the bill was passed, members had to buy plans through the ACA exchanges. The federal government subsidizes about 72 percent of the cost of premiums, according to Snopes.
Snopes writes, “If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, members of Congress have a fallback plan. They would be able to return to the FEHBP. Twenty million other Americans won’t.”
Jimenez thinks that if Americans will be forced to purchase health care from the free marketplace, the same rules should apply to members of Congress.
Jimenez asks, “If Congress is willing to drastically cut healthcare subsidies for most people, are they willing to have the same rules apply to them and their families?”