KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Special Treatment? Examining Who On Capitol Hill Has To Get Coverage On The Health Law’s Exchanges

News outlets take a closer look at the circumstances around how members of Congress and their staffs are navigating getting health coverage on the DC insurance exchange -- and just who is required to do so and by when.

CNN: Is Congress Getting Special Treatment On Obamacare?
Congress' tangled relationship with the Affordable Care Act entered another phase Monday, raising a new question about whether lawmakers are really experiencing the exchanges the way other Americans do. Monday night was the deadline for members of Congress and the thousands of people who work on their staffs to sign up for the Obamacare exchanges, where they must go to get any job-related health benefits. But with technical problems popping up in the past few days, House administrators gave employees (including elected members) a safety net. If they were blocked by technical problems, staff members will still be able to sign up for another week (Desjardins, 12/10).

The Washington Post's Fact Checker: Harry Reid's Explanation For Why Not All Of His Staff Is Going On 'Obamacare'
If there is anything that illustrates the complexity of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, it’s the tiny section concerning members of Congress and their staff. The Fact Checker has spent some time digging into this issue, and it's headache-inducing. The law requires members of Congress and at least some of their staff to leave the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program and join the health-care exchanges. That was easier said than done, in large part because congressional employees previously had received a stipend to help pay for premiums, whereas they generally make too much to qualify for subsidies in the exchanges. So a system has be gerry-rigged, using the DC small-business exchange (SHOP), to allow for continued health-care stipends from the federal government. See, it is headache-inducing (Kessler, 12/11). 

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