U.S. Capitol

Obamacare subjects lawmakers to the same trials and tribulations as their constituents. | AP Photo


Staring down a deadline to sign up for Obamacare, some lawmakers are getting hit by technical glitches or sticker shock. Others are breezing through the website, elated by lower premiums and better health services. And at least one won’t sign up at all — opting to pay a penalty instead.

In short, the Obamacare experience is the same mixed bag on Capitol Hill as it is across the nation.

“It’s been less than perfect. It’s taken a while,” said Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.). “It takes a long time, dropped off, get asked to call back.”

The Affordable Care Act subjects lawmakers to the same trials and tribulations as their constituents by pushing them off their existing health care plans and onto the Obamacare exchanges. As they race to meet a Monday deadline to sign up for coverage, some lawmakers are coming out as winners and others are clear losers — much like the folks back home.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) is one of the losers. He tweeted in frustration that the Obamacare website crashed three times as he tried to enroll last week. Once he was able to select a plan, he found that he will pay roughly $800 per month in premiums for his wife and three children — up from the roughly $450 that he is now paying under the Federal Employee Health Benefits program.

Adding to his irritation, Fleischmann said he still hasn’t received confirmation that he is enrolled.

“I am not a fan of Obamacare,” Fleischmann said in an interview. “But I was bound and determined to try to comply with the law. I’ve done everything in my power to try to do that.”

Since it went live in October, Obamacare’s implementation has proved to be a disaster, plagued by website problems that prevented people from enrolling. The site has stabilized, however, over the past week after an intense administration effort to address the problems.

Some lawmakers aren’t even trying to sign up. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), one of the health care law’s most adamant foes on Capitol Hill, said he’s planning on going uninsured and paying the penalty for violating the individual mandate that kicks in on Jan. 1.

“I’ve pledged that I’m not taking the subsidy,” Gohmert said in an interview, referring to the employer contribution for lawmakers’ health care plans. “Too many people in my district have lost their insurance because of Obamacare … and because of Obamacare, the remaining insurance is just too expensive. So I’m not going to have insurance, it looks like.”

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