Congress avoids the ObamaCare experience
While millions of Americans across the country are figuring out what to do about their canceled health plans – despite being promised repeatedly by the president that they could keep them – those in Congress who have enrolled in ObamaCare have managed to avoid the unpleasantness. Under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, commonly known...
While millions of Americans across the country are figuring out what to do about their canceled health plans – despite being promised repeatedly by the president that they could keep them – those in Congress who have enrolled in ObamaCare have managed to avoid the unpleasantness.
Under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, commonly known as ObamaCare, lawmakers and their staffs were to lose their group health benefits and be forced to purchase individual policies through the new insurance exchanges, where the only available subsidies are based on income.
But according to a recent article in The New York Times, lawmakers have managed to avoid the “ObamaCare experience” almost entirely. For starters, members “can log on to a special Blue Cross and Blue Shield website for members of Congress and use a special toll-free telephone number — a ‘dedicated congressional health insurance plan assistance line.’” Other insurers have special access numbers for members and many have set up offer in-person support inside the Capitol.
This is in addition to other long-standing perks that taxpayers have already been supporting. According to the article, “lawmakers can receive care from the attending physician to Congress, conveniently located in the Capitol, for an annual fee of $576. And they can get care at military hospitals.” But this is only the beginning of how members’ experiences will differ from the constituents they serve.
While ACA calls for members and their staffs to join the exchanges, the Office of Personnel Management has written rules that keep them from the having to live under the same rules as the people they represent. Instead of going into the individual exchanges where individuals cannot receive employer subsidies, members and their staffs may go into the District of Columbia’s Health Link Exchange, which does allow employees to receive premium subsidies from their employers. But this exchange is supposed to be restricted to employers with 50 or fewer full-time or full-time equivalent employees, which is yet another example of special treatment for the politicians who supposedly represent us.
Members may also designate their staffers as “official office” or “official staff.” Official staff will not be required to go into the exchange and may continue to receive the lavish health plan and subsidized premiums of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan.
While some members would like to keep their health insurance decisions for themselves and their staff private, it should be a matter of public record. As public employees, the salaries of congressional staffers are already a matter of public record.
If your lawmaker is enrolled in ObamaCare, you should be fully aware that they are receiving premium health insurance subsidies that are not based on their income. They have a special 800 number that they call to avoid the “long waits” that their constituents cannot avoid and they have a doctor located within the Capitol that they can access.
Taxpayers are footing the bill for these benefits – and we should know if our elected representatives in Congress believe they should live under a different set of rules from us.