Dozens of lawmakers and aides on Capitol Hill are considering retirement, or simply quitting, over a unique provision in the President Obama’s law that requires them to get their insurance through state-based exchanges next year, according to a Politico report.
Congress agreed to acquire insurance through the exchanges when they crafted the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, offered the amendment to make a point, arguing Democrats should be willing to live with the reforms they crafted. But Democrats took him up on the measure, leading to the present quandary.
Federal lawmakers and aides are worried that life in the exchanges will eliminate their government-subsidized premiums. After all the exchanges, set to open this fall for insurance that takes effect in 2014, are intended for people without employer-based insurance.
But the federal government is an enormous employer, and the law does not provide subsidies for large employers through the exchanges until 2017.
Politico reported that lawmakers’ aides are leaving for new jobs over the issue, which seems to be in a holding pattern until the Office of Personnel Management decides whether it will still be able to subsidize health plans on the Hill.
The issue is especially pressing for staffers and lawmakers in the House, who tend to be less wealthy than their Senate counterparts, according to Politico.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to shoot down initial reports in April that members of Congress want to exempt themselves and staffers from the law.
“There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employers offering health care,” a Reid spokesman said at the time.