What is House Bill H.R. 3342?
This bill, which has the common name of the Practice What You Preach Act, amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to restrict the health plans that the federal government may make available to the President to only those health plans that are created under Obamacare. This restriction currently applies to Members of Congress and congressional staff, but not to the President, as the President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and therefore has access to military hospitals and doctors.
If enacted, the bill would make the President and his family follow the guidelines established in his recent healthcare overhaul.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 3342
A CBO cost is unavailable; any impact on the federal budget is unlikely.
In Detail: Healthcare for the President and Members of Congress
Healthcare for the President while in Office
First, the President, while in office, has access to treatment by military hospitals and doctors as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. His family, as his dependents, also shares in this benefit. In the past, when Presidents have been sick or injured in office, they have almost always been treated at military hospital establishments. The cost of this treatment is borne by the taxpayers as part of the military budget appropriated by Congress.
Health Insurance for the President after his term
However, once the President leaves office, this may change. The President is afforded a set pension amount for his services, regardless of whether he served one or two terms. The amount of this pension, currently, is $199,700 per year, or a little less than 50% of an active President’s salary. The President receives this amount for life. The President is free at this point to choose privatized healthcare by paying health insurance premiums through the same carriers available to federal employees and will receive premium prices comparable to those employees. The President may also choose to purchase private health insurance from another company at his own expense. The one benefit the President and his family receive is the option to continue to receive treatment at military hospitals and healthcare provider locations, just as veterans are eligible for these services. This applies whether or not the President actually served in the armed forces, by right of being Commander-in-Chief for at least four years.
Health Insurance for Members of Congress
Congress, however, has a different proposition. Congressional members are not afforded free military healthcare unless they are veterans in their own right. Their families are not eligible for benefits, either. Congressional members do receive a pension which they can use toward the purchase of federal employee healthcare coverage options. However, contrary to popular belief, representatives and senators do not receive this pension for life immediately after serving two years in the House or six in the Senate. Just as with most private pension funds, the Congressional pension fund requires members to attain an age of 50 before drawing a pension if they have 20 years of service. Otherwise, they must wait until age 62 to draw. With 25 years of service, they can draw immediately upon retiring. The amount of the pension, unlike the President’s, is based on years of service, and is not a set amount. By law, Congressional members cannot draw more than 80% of the average of their three greatest years of salary in the form of a pension.
Congress is free to purchase healthcare insurance with some of these pension funds, but the terms will be the same as with any other private insurance company. Until 1984, Congress did not pay into Social Security, instead having their retirement withholdings deposited into a federal employee retirement fund. However, any Congressional representative or senator elected since 1983 has paid into Social Security, and therefore is eligible for Medicare benefits.
Practice What You Preach Act of 2013
To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide for health insurance coverage for the President through an Exchange in the same manner as for Members of Congress.