Congressional Health Plans Extended Due to Obamacare Problems

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 09:15 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Congressional lawmakers and their staff now have until the end of January to sign up for new health coverage due to enrollment problems with the District of Columbia's healthcare exchange website.

According to House officials, lawmakers and their aides can continue with their current coverage plans until Jan. 31, unless they have already successfully enrolled in Obamacare.

The extension reminder came Thursday, four days before the Dec. 9 Obamacare sign-up deadline for federal employees, The Washington Post reported.

The email from Dan Strodel, chief administrative officer in the House, went out to all House employees reminding them that that they are allowed to stay on the current Federal Employees Health Benefits Program "until you are successfully enrolled in a plan under DC Health Link." He said the old plans are scheduled to end on Feb. 1.

In his email, Strodel cited "significant problems" with the DC Health Link website that have made it more difficult for many on Capitol Hill to complete the enrollment process. He said he had informed Office of Personnel Management about the issues.

Meanwhile, congressional aides who attended a health benefits fair Thursday were unable to enroll in Obamacare because the D.C. website was either down or producing error messages, Roll Call reported. Some staff members waited in line for more than two hours to use a single computer made available to attendees.

According to the Post, Senate officials have not said if they will offer an extension, as well, but Senate employees have not reported as many problems as their counterparts in the House.

Republican Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan, chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, said in a statement that the D.C. exchange site "is failing as utterly as the nationwide Obamacare website."

"The House is doing everything possible to assist our employees and their families from losing healthcare coverage because of this deeply flawed enrollment process," Miller added.


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