by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
…Until the Obamacare Marketplaces are scheduled to open.
Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley inserted a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires all members of Congress to receive health insurance under the law’s Marketplaces. Therefore, the law terminates Congress from receiving generous packages through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
In the words of the Wall Street Journal, Congress is “flipping out” because the Obamacare Marketplaces offer premium assistance subsidies to applicants who earn an annual household income between 100-400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Congressional members do not qualify because their income exceeds the subsidy eligibility standard. Because of this, their health care premiums will skyrocket.
So this was fixed yesterday in a proposal by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal government’s human resource agency. Now, Members of Congress – meaning any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate, will still receive FEHBP Government Contributions that cover up to 75% of their insurance premiums while enrolled on the federal health law’s Marketplaces.
Tim Jost, a healthcare law expert at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, said it was probably never Congress’ intention to take away federal benefit contributions from Capitol Hill employees, just to push them into them into the exchanges.
“This clarifies what they really intended to do all along,” Jost said. “Congress had subjected itself to a requirement that applied to nobody else in the country.”
Tim Jost says Congress never intended to strip generous health benefits from its members, just like he said Congress never intended for premium assistance subsidies to be limited to state-established exchanges. So intentions surpass the actual written provisions of the federal health care law? This is illegal and outrageous.