Obama Solves Healthcare Crisis for Congress, Staff

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Friday, 02 Aug 2013 03:21 AM

By Cathy Burke

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It helps to have the president on the case.
 
A day after President Barack Obama told Senate Democrats he’d find a solution to lawmakers’ worries they’d soon face prohibitive healthcare premiums, officials said the government would continue to make a hefty contribution to their health plans under Obamacare.

The Office of Personnel Management could issue the new regulation as early as Friday, Politico reported late Thursday night.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also confirmed a deal, saying “I’m glad it’s done,” according to Roll Call.

At issue was whether Obamacare allows the federal government to continue to pay part of the health insurance premiums for members of Congress and thousands of Hill aides when they are nudged onto health exchanges.

Currently, the government pays nearly 75 percent of these premiums.

The government’s contributions came into question, however, because of a controversial Republican amendment to the Affordable Care Act that didn’t include language authorizing the Feds to help pay the Obamacare premiums.

Had the payments stopped, it would cost Hill staffers thousands of extra dollars each year.
In a conference call with Iowa reporters Wednesday, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who voted against Obamacare, said his 2010 amendment stemmed from residents’ comments, the Des Moines Register reported.

 “At my town meetings, constituents said to me, ‘Well, if Obamacare is good enough for us, why isn’t it good enough for you?’ ”

The controversy had to be resolved before Oct. 1, which is when members and staffers can begin enrolling in the exchanges.

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