KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

As Part Of Capitol Hill Debate, GOP Seeks To Charge Congressional Employees More For Insurance

Even as House Republicans sought to eliminate federal subsidies for congressional workers, the Office of Personnel Management described how staffers would have to get insurance through small-business insurance exchanges.

The Associated Press: GOP Demanded Lawmakers Pay More For Health Care
About 18,000 people -- including members of Congress, all their aides, presidential appointees and even the president and vice president -- would lose the employer-provided health insurance under a condition that Republicans proposed for averting a government shutdown. The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the measure Monday night, an hour after the House passed it (Kellman, 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: One GOP Demand On Health Law Hits Lawmakers' Coverage
[It] exposes lawmakers, their aides and White House staff to the law in a way designed to maximize the pain. The proposal, similar to one backed in the Senate by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, would limit federal health care contributions to lawmakers, staff and to some White House officials, making their coverage more expensive (Peterson, 9/30).

The New York Times: House To Add Measure Cutting Health Subsidy For Congress
Conservative activists have framed the language as ensuring that Congress and the White House live under the same strictures as ordinary Americans under the health care law. In fact, the language would put poorly paid junior staff members at a disadvantage. Most people purchasing coverage on the exchanges will be subsidized by generous tax credits. Most Americans will still get their insurance from their employers who will remain subsidized by a tax deduction for the cost of that care (Weisman, 9/30).

Also in play during the continuing congressional debate --

NPR: How A Tax On Medical Devices United Political Rivals
As the federal government lurches toward a shutdown, there's one thing a lot of people in Congress actually agree on. A 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices that took effect at the beginning of 2013 should be undone, they say. House Republicans included a provision to do that in a funding bill passed over the weekend that also sought a one-year delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Hensley, 9/30).

Meanwhile --

CQ HealthBeat: Final OPM Rule: Members, Staff Must Get Health Benefits From D.C. Small-Business Exchange
Congressional lawmakers and staff members they designate must go to the small-business insurance exchange for the District of Columbia to get their 2014 health benefits from the federal government, according to a final rule the Office of Personnel Management released Monday. The regulation makes clear that employer-sponsored coverage for members of Congress and their designated staff will continue under the health care law, contrary to assertions by congressional Republicans and other critics of the law that the overhaul ends such benefits (Reichard, 9/30).

The Washington Post: Administration Moves To Limit, But Not End, Health Insurance Subsidy For Congress
Members of Congress and Capitol Hill workers, like almost all other federal employees, currently are eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, in which the government pays about 70 percent of the total premium cost on average. However, under the ACA, House and Senate members and certain personal staff -- although not other Hill employees -- instead will have to get their insurance through the ACA's marketplace effective with the 2014 calendar year (Yoder, 9/30). 

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.