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Much ado about status quo

October 3, 2013 - Jim Anderson
Is Congress exempt from Obamacare?

Clearly, no.

Under the law, members of Congress and their staffers are to select their health insurance plans from the new Affordable Care Act exchange that opened Oct. 1.

But is Congress being given special treatment?

That would depend on your interpretation of special.

In the past, members of Congress and their staffers chose their health care coverage from a menu of plans available to federal employees. To help pay for that coverage, they received an employer contribution.

Under Obamacare, the contribution will continue. In short, they’re moving to a different exchange.

And that could be that.

Except, technically, regular citizens aren’t allowed to take an employer contribution and apply it to coverage purchased through the Obamacare exchanges. Keep in mind, however, until now regular citizens didn’t have the opportunity to purchase coverage through an exchange. Congressional workers always did.

Also, there is nothing in the Affordable Care Act that prevents private employers from simply providing a boost in salary for employees who are forced to go onto the new exchanges.

So why is there a ruckus over Obamacare as it applies to Congress? And why is it such a sore point in the debate over the partial government shutdown?

You tell me.

In fact, stories are surfacing that House Speaker John Boehner once privately lobbied to maintain the “special treatment” for congressional workers that he now rails against.



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