Congressional leaders from both parties are reportedly discussing ways that lawmakers and their aides can avoid having to participate in Obamacare health insurance exchanges.
According to Politico
, the talks involving the White House, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and other congressional leaders have been going on for months and are extremely sensitive, given the potential for political fallout.
The talks were apparently prompted by concerns on Capitol Hill that the provision in the law requiring lawmakers and congressional staffers to join the exchanges could cost them thousands of dollars in new healthcare costs, which could force many staffers to leave their government jobs in search of higher-paying employment.
Various proposals have reportedly been submitted to the Office of Personnel Management, which will administer the benefits and decide whether and how lawmakers and their staffs will be covered. One proposal exempts lawmakers and their aides, while another exempts staff members only, reports Politico.
Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, told Politico that the speaker’s goal is “to spare the entire country from the ravages of the president’s healthcare law,” explaining, “He is approached daily by American citizens, including members of Congress and staff, who want to be freed from its mandates.”
“If the speaker has the opportunity to save anyone from Obamacare, he will,” added Steel.
But by excusing themselves from a key component of the controversial 2010 Affordable Care Act, leaders on Capitol Hill could face a backlash from both the public and other politicians.
Congress already is taking heat from the public over the sequester and other issues. By writing themselves and exemption to Obamacare, Politico noted that lawmakers could be seen as holding themselves to a different standard than the people who elected them.
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