Congress Gets Their Own Obamacare Exemption

Some are calling this a waiver: it’s not. Senators, Representatives, and their aides and staff will still have to get their insurance through the Exchange

(Politico) Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy – their health care tab is not going to soar next year.

The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue a ruling that says the government can continue to make a contribution to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their aides, according to several Hill sources.

The problem was rooted in the original text of the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) inserted a provision which said members of Congress and their aides must be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an exchange.” Until now, OPM had not said if the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program could contribute premium payments toward plans on the exchange. If payments stopped, lawmakers and aides would have faced thousands of dollars in additional premium payments each year. Under the old system, the government contributed nearly 75 percent of premium payments.

As Bryan Preston points out, this ruling by OPM is illegal, as they don’t have power to change the law. But, then, they’re just following the lead of the White House and other Executive Branch agencies which change/don’t follow the law all the time.

But, how much is going to be covered? That’s the question, and we won’t know until next week, when OPM is expected to issue guidance and guidelines (I bet very, very quietly). Congress Critters, based on their salaries, would, under the terms of Obamacare, receive no government government tax credit, and would pay around $11,257 for a typical Bronze level plan (2 adults, 2 kids), based solely on the Critter’s government salary.

Based. On. The. Law., Congress should be on it’s own for payment. And, even if Congress likes their own health insurance plan, they can’t keep it. OMB has no statutory authority to provide any taxpayer funds to use to subsidize Congress and their staffs. Period.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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