Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.
The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.
Democratic and Republican leaders are taking the issue seriously, but first they need more specifics from the Office of Personnel Management on how the new rule should take effect — a decision that Capitol Hill sources expect by fall, at the latest. The administration has clammed up in advance of a ruling, sources on both sides of the aisle said.
If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues — like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform.
The problem is far more acute in the House, where lawmakers and aides are generally younger and less wealthy. Sources said several aides have already given lawmakers notice that they’ll be leaving over concerns about Obamacare. Republican and Democratic lawmakers said the chatter about retiring now, to remain on the current health care plan, is constant.
Rep. John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat in leadership when the law passed, said he thinks the problem will be resolved.
“If not, I think we should begin an immediate amicus brief to say, ‘Listen this is simply not fair to these employees,’” Larson told POLITICO. “They are federal employees.”
Republicans, never a fan of Democratic health care reform, are more vocal about the potential adverse effects of the provision.
“It’s a reality,” said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). “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.” He said his fellow lawmakers are having “quiet conversations” about the threat.
Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner said the threat is already real, especially for veteran lawmakers and staff. If they leave this year, they think they can continue to be covered under the current health care plan.
“I’ve lost one staffer who told me in confidence that he had been here for a number of years and the thought of losing the opportunity to keep his health insurance on Dec. 31 [forced him to leave]. He could keep what he had and on Jan. 1 he would go into that big black hole,” said Bonner, who had already planned his resignation from Congress. “And then I’ve got another staff member that I think it will be a factor as she’s contemplating her future.”
Now I would like to just point out the tragic irony here. The same people who designed the law are now fleeing the law and leaving the rest of us behind. There should be a bill passed and signed stripping them of any current benefits and forcing them into their vaunted exchanges so I can rub elbows with them at the local urgent care- which is the only place we can find anything resembling a doctor.
And what are they running from? This apparently- California joined the exchange and screwed their people.
Until now, much of the debate swirling around Obamacare has focused on the cost of premiums in the state-based health insurance exchanges.
But what will enrollees actually get for that monthly charge?
States are starting to roll out details about the exchanges, providing a look at just how affordable coverage under the Affordable Care Act will be. Some potential participants may be surprised at the figures: $2,000 deductibles, $45 primary care visit co-pays, and $250 emergency room tabs.
Those are just some of the charges enrollees will incur in a silver-level plan in California, which recently unveiled an overview of the benefits and charges associated with its exchange. That’s on top of the $321 average monthly premium.
For some, this will be great news since it will allow them to see the doctor without breaking the bank. But others may not want to shell out a few thousand bucks in addition to a monthly premium.
“The hardest question is will it be a good deal and will consumers be able to afford it,” said Marian Mulkey, director of the health reform initiative at the California Healthcare Foundation. “The jury is still out. It depends on their circumstances.”
A quick refresher on Obamacare: People who don’t have affordable health insurance through their employers will be able to sign up for coverage through state-based exchanges. Enrollment is set to begin in October, with coverage taking effect in January. You must have some form of coverage next year, or you will face annual penalties of $95 or 1% of family income (whichever is greater) initially and more in subsequent years.
When you wonder about John Roberts and the change of heart he suddenly had, and many do especially since we found out about the political shenanigans with the IRS by the Obama administration and the collection of domestic emails and phone records, think about another possibility. Maybe Roberts felt it better in the long run to let those who would demonize him politically (and his Court) if he turned them away suffer the reality of what they wrought. Now all of America will see just how selfish and controlling and ignorant and power hungry and dangerous the democrats under Obama have become.
Now Roberts cannot change the greed, or the cheating or the demographics of America, but he can present to those, who still can count to ten without their fingers, the opportunity to see the situation as it is and just how bad it has become. And maybe in 2014 the Republicans seize the House and the Senate and in 2016 run a candidate that promises to rid America of this cancer.
Or they could have just hacked his emails and threatened him. Who knows anymore.
And just for fun.