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But a spokesman for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, Josh Drobnyk, pointed to an October 2012 memo from Mr. Grassley’s office that suggests the amendment’s author never intended to tinker with the federal contribution.

The memo, which sought to clarify media reports on his amendment, noted: “Senator Grassley said his provision, even in the final form it took in the law that was enacted makes no changes to the employer contribution to federal employee health care coverage and no changes to federal retiree health care.”

It is unclear whether Congress will be able to address the problem when it resumes business this month after the August recess. Only 28 days remain until the health exchanges open for business, although open enrollment will run through March.

“In normal times, Congress would have passed a technical amendments bill and they would have straightened out these things,” said Timothy Jost, a health care reform specialist at Washington and Lee University School of Law. “But we’re not living in normal times.”