Legislation has been introduced in Congress to reverse the decision made by the Office of Personnel Management to exempt members of Congress from the Obamacare exchanges.
OPM announced on August 2 that it will issue regulations saying that the government can continue to make the employer contribution to the health plans of congressional members and staff.
The legislation will do the following:
- Clarifies that members do not have the authority to define “official staff” and can thereby not exempt any of their staff from going into the exchange (current Senate rules and the OPM proposal gives discretion to the individual offices).
- Clarifies that Members of Congress, all staff, President, Vice President, and political appointees are no longer eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) and must go into the exchange.
- Prohibits Members, political appointees, President and Vice President from receiving tax-payer funded contributions in the form of subsidies, tax credits, or employer contribution to purchase insurance on the exchange- as in most of these cases they earn well above the maximum income ($43,000 individual/$92,000 family) and would otherwise be ineligible for subsidies or tax credits as defined in the statute.
The legislation is being introduced in the Senate by David Vitter (R-LA), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Dean Heller (R-NV) and by Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Dennis Ross (R-FL) in the House.
“These recent maneuverings inside the beltway are precisely why the American people rightly despise Congress,” Vitter said. “Our legislation gets right to the core of the OPM ‘fix’ and says we won’t allow a Washington exemption from Obamacare. The House should include Rep. DeSantis’s legislation in their Continuing Resolution this week, and we’ll work to get it passed in the Senate.”
Heller added, “It’s simple. Members of Congress, their staff, and the Administration must play by the same rules as the American taxpayer. Those who are responsible for crafting and passing ObamaCare, including Committee and Leadership congressional staff, should be subject to the law as well.”