Two House Bills Target Congress Staffers’ Employer Contributions
On Monday, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) announced that he will introduce legislation that would prevent members of Congress and their staff from keeping their employer contributions toward health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/26).
Meanwhile on Monday, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) released similar draft legislation, but her measure would allow congressional staffers to receive the federal premium support, according to the Washington Post's "Federal Eye" (Hicks, "Federal Eye," Washington Post, 8/27).
Under the ACA, all House and Senate lawmakers and aides are required to enroll in the law's health insurance exchanges. Currently, the federal government covers about 75% of Congress' health insurance costs through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
In a proposed rule released on Aug. 7, the Office of Personnel Management clarified an earlier directive stating the government will continue to contribute to lawmakers' and their staffers' premiums. The contributions would not exceed what they would have received under their current benefits plan. While they still would have to move from FEHBP to the exchanges in January, they will not be eligible for the subsidies available to other U.S. residents under the ACA to help purchase coverage (California Healthline, 8/8).
DeSantis said that allowing congressional members and their staff to continue to receive an employer contribution is "patently unfair ... while leaving the rest of America to bear the costs" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/26).
Moore Capito echoed DeSantis' sentiments in a statement earlier this month, when she announced that she would propose the "No Obamacare Subsidies for Congress Act" when Congress reconvenes next month after its August recess. She said, "As long as Obamacare remains law, members of Congress should not receive exchange subsidies that are not provided to other Americans" ("Federal Eye," Washington Post, 8/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.