“I lost my health insurance under Obamacare,” Rep. Michele Bachmann lamented to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday evening.
She didn’t sound happy about it. “Actually, we were just fine before,” she told Democratic strategist Paul Begala after he suggested that she should be thankful for the health reform law because she and her husband, who Bachmann said had serious health issues, couldn’t be discriminated against now.
Has she checked out the Washington, D.C., health insurance marketplace, where she could see what Obamacare might actually be able to offer her and her family? Yeah, right.
“Are you kidding? I’m not going to waste an hour on that thing,” she said. “I’m waiting until they fix this thing. I’m not going to sit there and frustrate myself for hours and hours.”
But as Bachmann portrayed herself another victim of Obamacare, another American kicked off her health plan, she left out one important fact: She has her fellow Republicans to thank for her so-called predicament.
It became a hotly debated issue during the government shutdown crisis, but bears repeating as Bachman lumps herself in with the millions of others who have seen their health policies canceled. Forcing members of Congress to give up their existing employer coverage provided by the federal government and go onto Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces to purchase a new plan was a Republican poison pill originally designed to try to put Democratic lawmakers in a bind.
It’s commonly known as the Grassley amendment, though that’s a bit of a misnomer. According to this helpful history from the Heritage Foundation — a conservative think tank that implies its support for keeping the policy — it started with an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) while an early version of the Affordable Care Act was still in committee. Grassley did the same thing in a separate committee.
Grassley’s name stuck because he repeatedly advocated for the policy while the law was being debated. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did write the policy — with language that hewed closer to Coburn’s version, according to Heritage — into the final bill that combined versions that had passed out of the two Senate committees. That’s what became law in 2010.
The policy that Bachmann is complaining about was dreamed up by her conservative colleagues in the upper chamber. You might say it’s the one Republican proposal that actually made it into the law.
But that bit of nuance didn’t make it into her comments Thursday.
“We are forced to go on the websites and purchase the health insurance plan from the D.C. health exchange,” Bachmann said. “We’ll do it, but remember, there’s a few problems with this website. The president has acknowledged that. I’m not going to waste my time and frustration until they get the thing fixed.”
TPM is attempting to confirm with Bachmann’s office that she currently receives health insurance through the federal government.