Democratic state lawmakers on Thursday shot down a proposal that would have required all California state legislators to get their health insurance from Covered California, the benefits exchange set up to implement Obamacare in the state.
The Assembly Rules Committee split along party lines, with seven Democrats opposing AB 1109 and three Republicans in support of the bill by Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). The measure would have forced lawmakers to give up the taxpayer-subsidized health plans provided by the Legislature and individually sign up for Covered California.
Wilk introduced the measure after hearing complaints from several constituents about difficulties in signing up on the Covered California website and limitations on what is covered.
“I believe the Legislature would be more pro-active in addressing these concerns if we were enrolled in the program,” Wilk said.
However, some Assembly members said the legislation violates a provision of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prohibits large employers from shifting their workers to Obamacare.
Wilk does not believe the ACA provision on large employers would prevent lawmakers from switching to Covered California, according to his spokeswoman, Lisa Johnson.
“Legislators are not employees of the Assembly in any traditional sense,” she said. “They aren’t hired or fired by the Assembly. They have immunity from many things. Legislators are representatives to their respective districts and are elected by the people. If anything, they are employees of those voters and individual districts.”