U.S. lawmakers and their staff won’t lose their health care subsidies to the Affordable Care Act thanks to a deal announced Wednesday by the Office of Personnel Management.
During the Obamacare fight of 2010, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed an amendment designed to back Democrats into an uncomfortable corner. The amendment states that members of Congress and their aides should be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an exchange.”
However, instead of backing away from the Republican senator’s symbolic proposal, Democrats embraced it -- and it ended up in the final law, TheBlaze reported in April.
Members of Congress and their staff were then worried that the amendment would mean losing their taxpayer-funded health care subsidies, which would lead to a “brain drain” as staffers flee the nation's capital to avoid higher costs.
But Congress doesn't need to worry about that troublesome amendment anymore. President Obama met with Senate Democrats last week and informed them that he would “personally” sort out the issue, as The Daily Caller puts it.
And the OPM has spoken.
Simply put, U.S. lawmakers and their staff can keep their government-provided subsidies so long as they forgo "premium tax credits" that they would otherwise receive under Obamacare, according to the OPM guidelines.
Roll Call explains the OPM's reasoning on the deal:
OPM noted that the provision requiring members of Congress and their staff to join the exchanges included the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
That phrase, per OPM, gives the government license to ignore the other provision of the of the Affordable Care Act “that prohibits an employer from providing a qualified health plan through an Exchange as a benefit under its cafeteria plan.”
The agency notes that the rule simply allows U.S. lawmakers and their staff to maintain the benefits they already receive.
The OPM statement continues:
The amount of the employer contribution toward their Exchange premiums is no more than would otherwise be made toward coverage under the [Federal Employee Health Benefits] Program.
Jon Foley, OPM Director of Planning and Policy, adds the following:
These proposed regulations implement the administrative aspects of switching Members of Congress and congressional staff to their new insurance plans — the same plans available to millions of Americans through the new Exchanges.
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