Controversy Brews On Coverage Provisions For Congressional Members, Staff
Politico: "The health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama Tuesday requires members of Congress and their office staffs to buy insurance through the state-run exchanges it creates but it may exempt staffers who work for congressional committees or for party leaders in the House and Senate. Staffers and members on both sides of the aisle call it an 'inequity' and an 'outrage' a loophole that exempts the staffers most involved in writing and passing the bill from one of its key requirements."
"Some members are saying it is causing stress and is reflective of other ambiguities in the bill. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he's heard nervous cloakroom and speaker's lobby staffers discussing their confusion over which staffers would be covered and which would not" (Lovley, O'Connor, 3/24).
Roll Call: "The bill defines staff as employees who work in a Member's 'official office,' a term that does not appear to include staffers in committee and leadership offices. The disparity angers Republican Members and staffers, who argue that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Senate leaders deliberately excluded their own staff from legislation that would narrow their choices for health care" (Yehle, 3/24).
In his Federal Diary column, the Washington Post's Joe Davidson raises questions -- and tries to find the answers -- about the provision: "Uncle Sam now pays about 70 percent of the premium for federal workers. Will they get that same subsidy through an exchange? Currently, federal employees with at least five years of service can take their FEHBP insurance plan, along with the subsidy Sam provides, into retirement. Will they be able to do that with an exchange plan? And what happens to the workers who now are nearing retirement?" (Davidson, 3/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.