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June 30, 2015

OPM Details Obamacare Fix for Congress, Staff

It’s official: Members of Congress and congressional staff will keep their health care subsidies under Obamacare, and some staffers won’t have to join the new health exchanges at all.

The Office of Personnel Management issued formal guidance on how lawmakers and staffers can use their federal employee benefits to help pay for health care on the new health exchanges.

“These proposed regulations implement the administrative aspects of switching Members of Congress and congressional staff to their new insurance plans – the same plans available to millions of Americans through the new Exchanges,” OPM Director of Planning and Policy Jon Foley said in a statement.

But OPM separately noted that, unlike other Americans, Members of Congress and staff will continue to keep their employee subsidies under the plan, claiming a legal loophole written into the law itself. OPM noted that the provision requiring members of Congress and their staff to join the exchanges included the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” That phrase, per OPM, gives the government license to ignore the other provision of the of the Affordable Care Act “that prohibits an employer from providing a qualified health plan through an Exchange as a benefit under its cafeteria plan.”

In turn, lawmakers and staff will not be eligible for premium tax credits under the plans, and OPM noted that the rule merely maintains benefits lawmakers and staff already have. “The amount of the employer contribution toward their Exchange premiums is no more than would otherwise be made toward coverage under the [Federal Employee Health Benefits] Program,” OPM wrote.

Interestingly, the proposed rule leaves it to individual offices on Capitol Hill to define which employees are deemed to fall under the regulations because the term “official office” of a Member of Congress doesn’t have an existing statutory definition.

As this blog first reported last week, lawmakers and the White House worked out a fix fairly quickly after the issue came up for debate at a Senate Democratic Conference meeting with President Barack Obama.

The original news generated a mixed response. While senators had left for August recess by the time word of the deal circulated, the House was still in town for one more day.

Obama’s comments on the subject at the closed-door meeting were first reported by Politico.

Comments (7)

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  1. GNH

    Aug. 7, 2013
    2:35 p.m.

    This will just add more fodder to the repeal Obamacare fire. America does not need more division in this country. Very dangerous stuff.

    • scientist5

      Aug. 8, 2013
      1:11 p.m.

      I’d bet the elitist Congress will thumb their noses and go right along with the plan. What the hell? It is 14 months until they get re-elected. The incumbents will be returned so they can take continue to take care of the 50+% who always vote to continue government handouts. Yes, those that hardworking Americans have to pay for. AND, yes, Congress members and their over paid aides will get their healthcare outside of ObamaCare, along with dozens of other freebies they receive. Wanta bet?

      • GNH

        Aug. 8, 2013
        5:13 p.m.

        Would lose if I did.

  2. giatny

    Aug. 7, 2013
    4:38 p.m.

    How stupid do they think we are??? Congress will be able to maintain the
    75% subsidy they now get while the 20 million others losing their employer insurance being thrown into the exchanges will have to abide by the income-capped subsidies. In other words, those earning over $92000 will get zero
    but Congressional high earners will continue to get a 75% subsidy. The entire purpose of the amendment was to insure that Congress be subjected to same
    terms as everyone else. Clearly the “notwithstanding” clause was added by
    the scum Harry Reid. Even so, the interpretation of the clause is outrageous.
    Since the GOP colluded on this travesty, they have little standing in opposing
    ACA. There is NO integrity in the bloody lot of them.

    • scientist5

      Aug. 8, 2013
      1:02 p.m.

      How stupid do they think we are? Damned stupid!

  3. scientist5

    Aug. 8, 2013
    1 p.m.

    Well, what’s new? Obama and his groupies have already developed an elitist class. Now, Congress is following through Communist-like. First, it was Obama’s Czars, now it is the privileged class – Congress and their aides. We may be already seeing the beginnings of a KGB. We see our courts falling into line. What more evidence does the US citizen need?
    Too bad a lot of Libs haven’t taken the opportunity to talk to citizens of the former USSR. I have! The average Kazakh citizen who knew Communism first hand told me about the torture, the Gulags, and hundreds of other abuses leveled on the average citizen. One example – a woman who interpreted for me told me how her father (a school teacher) was sent to a Gulag for 5 years because he complained about the poor winter clothing worn by some of his students. He came back crippled in mind and body.
    HELLO – AMERICA! Wake up!

  4. Anonymous

    June 27, 2015
    4:31 a.m.

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