Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is again focusing on ObamaCare in his newest ad, attacking the law for providing what Republicans argue amounts to an “exemption” for federal lawmakers and their staffs.
“For 25 years, I cared for patients in charity hospitals like this,” he says over a shot of the Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge, La. “I saw that when politicians and bureaucrats control healthcare, your care suffers.”
He adds: “Politicians know this. So some in Congress exempted staff from ObamaCare. It’s good enough for us but not for them — that’s what’s wrong with Washington.”
The claim that some staff and lawmakers are exempt from the law has been a focal point of GOP attacks on ObamaCare, but it’s also been criticized by members of both parties as overly simplistic.
The healthcare law mandates that lawmakers and their staff buy coverage on ObamaCare's insurance exchanges, a move to ensure they have a personal stake in the law's implementation.
But both Republicans and Democrats worried that without an employer healthcare subsidy, Capitol Hill would find it difficult to attract the best and brightest staff.
At the urging of congressional leaders, the Obama administration came up with a special fix that allows members and staff to continue receiving an employer healthcare subsidy from the government on the exchanges.
That fix has been decried by some Republicans as an improper "exemption" from the law, and several bills have sought to undo it.
And some members of Congress have employed a loophole that allows lawmakers to exempt their staffers from the law if they define them as "official staff" rather than "official office," another exemption criticized by Republicans. Cassidy's staff remains on the exchanges.
Cassidy has been one outspoken critic of the so-called exemption, and in April of last year introduced a bill to require President Obama and Cabinet secretaries to purchase their healthcare on the exchanges.
He concludes the ad by declaring, “let’s replace ObamaCare with a health plan that gives the power to you, not bureaucrats and politicians.”
The 30-second spot will start in the New Orleans media market on a $100,000 buy and will go statewide over the next few weeks, the campaign said. Cassidy’s first ad will shift from the New Orleans market to the Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Shreveport media markets this week.
Cassidy faces several other GOP challengers in the race, but the state's all-party primary won't be held until November's Election Day. If no candidate gets 50 percent — a likely possibility — the top two finishers would head to a December runoff.
—This piece was updated to reflect further details on the exemption.