Congress Fears Impact of Obamacare on Benefits

Friday, 14 Jun 2013 01:39 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Lawmakers and their aides are watching closely to see how Obamacare will affect their government-subsidized health-insurance premiums, with many considering early retirement or moving to the private sector if the costs look to be too high.

The fear is the subsidized premiums will be eliminated for members of Congress at the end of the year due to a provision in the healthcare law that requires lawmakers and their staffs to buy their coverage from a government healthcare exchange, Politico reports.

Leaders in both parties are waiting for more information from the Office of Personnel Management on how the new rule will be applied, but there already is considerable talk among Republicans and Democrats about leaving, Politico noted.

The problem tends to be more serious in the House, where both elected officials and their aides generally are younger and less wealthy.

Connecticut Democrat John Larson said if the problem is not resolved, "I think we should begin an immediate amicus brief [friend of the court] to say, 'Listen, this is simply not fair to these employees.' They are federal employees."

House Republicans are especially critical of the potential brain drain. "It's a reality," Texas Rep. Pete Sessions told Politico. "This is the law. ... It's going to hinder our ability with retention of members. It's going to hinder our ability for members to take care of their families."

"A lot of the staff stays on largely because of the benefit levels," Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole added. "And particularly, if you've got people with families and it's extraordinarily important to them ... it's just not right."

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