Lawmakers and Hill Staffers Have Obamacare Escape Option

Monday, 03 Mar 2014 10:06 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Members of Congress and their staff are required under the new healthcare law to get their insurance through Obamacare, but if they choose to retire, they can reclaim their original federal healthcare plan.

Under a new rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management, lawmakers and staff who retire are entitled to revert to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the coveted federal health insurance plan that offered all federal employees a range of generous options, including health savings accounts, PPOs, and HMOs, The Hill reported.

The personnel office said it made the decision based on fairness, with the aim of ensuring that all federal workers had the same range of healthcare options.

"We make this change for the additional reason that, otherwise, members of Congress and congressional staff would have broader health insurance options in the exchange in retirement than are available to other federal annuitants," the personnel office said, according to The Hill.

Capitol Hill staffers are permitted to continue receiving government subsidies to buy health insurance under Obamacare, despite criticism that Congress is unfairly receiving additional healthcare benefits beyond other consumers in the federal marketplace.

Nevertheless, supporters of the subsidies say the benefits represent a critical factor in retaining staff, many of whom are looking for new jobs as the extra cost of healthcare benefits under Obamacare are effectively reducing the value of their compensation packages.

A recent survey indicates that almost four out of 10 chiefs of staff and district directors plan to seek new positions in the next 12 months due to the additional healthcare costs under the new law, while almost 80 percent of respondents said they thought the new healthcare law would result in Capitol Hill staff seeking new jobs.

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