Govt. Will Continue To Pay For Capitol Hill Staffer Health Coverage, But Mostly In Exchanges

New details from the Obama administration clear a way for the government to continue to pay for the bulk of the costs associated with providing health coverage to Capitol Hill staffers, though they must buy coverage on Obamacare exchanges instead of getting it through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. The rules say each congressional office should make the determination, however, about which employees move to exchanges and which can stay on the federal plans.

The New York Times: Higher Costs Seen For Some In Congress On Health Plans
Older members of Congress and those who smoke, like Speaker John A. Boehner, could be facing much higher health insurance premiums under a new official interpretation of President Obama's health care law. The administration said Wednesday that the government would continue contributing to the cost of health benefits for lawmakers and thousands of Congressional employees, but that they would have to buy coverage as individuals through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges (Pear, 8/7).

Politico: Feds Clarify Hill Health Coverage Under ACA
The Obama administration on Wednesday issued a proposed rule allowing the government to continue to pay for a significant portion of health insurance for lawmakers and Hill staffers. The regulation begins to finalize a policy solution released last week in response to a growing controversy over how Hill staffers will get their health insurance in 2014. The health law essentially requires them to get insurance on the exchanges but does not provide a clear pathway for the government to continue to pay for part of their premiums. The Obama administration and congressional leaders want to preserve the payments to ensure staffers don't leave the Hill in droves in response to the new costs (Haberkorn and Millman, 8/7).

NPR: Fix Is In For Congressional Obamacare Glitch
Finally, the federal HR department has released the health rule much of Capitol Hill has been waiting for. There's now an explanation from the Office of Personnel Management on how members of Congress and much of their staff will get their health insurance starting next year (Rovner, 8/7).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: New Rules for Lawmakers, Staffs To Buy Health Insurance
The Obama administration released new details of how it plans to implement a controversial and complicated provision of the health law that requires members of Congress and their staffs to get health insurance through new exchanges rather than through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Democrats said last week they had found a way to make sure the federal government pays up to 75 percent of the insurance premiums for members, their staffs and families obtained through the exchanges (Radnofsky, 8/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Prognosis Uncertain For Obama Plan To Fix Health Law Glitch That Impacts Coverage For Congress
It started out a political "gotcha" -- an amendment to President Barack Obama’s health care law requiring members of Congress and staffers to get the same coverage offered to uninsured Americans. Wednesday, the administration tossed it back in the lap of Congress. Proposed rules -- issued when the halls of Congress are empty for summer recess -- say lawmakers' offices should individually decide whether staffers are subject to a health law provision that would require them to switch their insurance from the federal plan to new coverage coming next year under Obama's overhaul (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/7).

Reuters: Congress Wins Relief On Obamacare Health Plan Subsidies
Congress has won some partial relief for lawmakers and their staffs from the "Obamacare" health reforms that it passed and subjected itself to three years ago. In a ruling issued on Wednesday, U.S. lawmakers and their staffs will continue to receive a federal contribution toward the health insurance that they must purchase through soon-to-open exchanges created by President Barack Obama's signature health care law (Lawder, 8/7).

CQ HealthBeat: OPM Isues Proposed Rule For Health Coverage For Lawmakers, Aides
A proposal issued Wednesday by the Office of Personnel Management may put to rest fears of a brain drain on Capitol Hill stemming from a pending switch of many congressional staff members from the federal health benefits program to the new health law exchanges. But it could also create new administrative headaches and office morale issues for lawmakers, since at least some aides might be able to hang on to their familiar coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (Reichard, 8/7).

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