Monday, September 30, 2013

Is Congress Exempt from the Affordable Care Act? No.

Finally a definitive answer. Despite being federal employees, ObamaCare included a Republican amendment that required Congress and their aides to use the Marketplaces. And that's good. Here's Ezra Klein with the explanation:

Reno-Gazette Journal: The claim: Congress is exempt from Obamacare.
The background: Here’s what the law’s text says: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and Congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are — (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an Amendment made by this Act).”

In other words, Congress must use Obamacare.

The federal government already offers health insurance to its workers. Like most employers, it covers part of workers’ health insurance costs. Because Congress and its staff are being treated differently than all other employers in order to force it to use the Obamacare marketplace, there was no language stating that the government could cover part of the premiums for Congress as it currently does.

Last month, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management issued a rule saying that, yes, this was OK to do, as long as the premium coverage wasn’t more than it is for other federal workers.

In response, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued a carefully phrased statement that Obama somehow had exempted Congress and its staff from “the full effect of the law.” Does the new rule mean Congress won’t have to get health insurance through the Obamacare marketplaces? No, they still have to.

Does this mean Congress is getting special treatment? No, members and their staffs still get no benefit they don’t currently get.


  1. Hi Democrumudgeon, I'm trying to find the part of the act that contains the quote. I keep seeing the quote, but I have scanned this very large act and cannot find the exact passage. Can you help me by quoting the actual page number of the bill/amendment itself?


  2. I hope you've also checked for any amendments to the bill, that's where you'll find the Grassley amendment.

    I would help, but right now I'm working on two other stories before midnight.