Congressional Obamacare coverage error fixed (ps – they still get better benefits than you)

The government has fixed the error in the Affordable Care Act clause that required members of Congress and their paid staff to buy their health insurance through ACA exchanges when the law fully takes affect in 2014. Although the exchange requirement was clear, there was confusion because the ACA provision for Congress did not contain any language specifying whether Congressional members and staff would still be eligible to receive the special Federal Employee Health Benefits Program subsidy that currently pays up to 75% of health insurance costs for Federal employees.

The Office of Management and Budget has just issued their ruling and unsurprisingly they have decided to allow members of Congress and their staff to keep the generous FEHB subsidy.

This is confusing to me because the insurance plans sold through the Obamacare Exchanges already have subsidies built in. Exchange customers are eligible for subsidies as long as their income is no more than four times the Federal poverty guideline, which is about $45,960 for a single adult or $94,200 for a family of four.

Of course, as you or your family’s income increases, the subsidy you are eligible to receive decreases.

The income earned by an elected member of Congress would of course disqualify them from receiving any Obamacare exchange premium subsidies.  That’s only fair; if you’re earning $174,000 a year or more, you are obviously “rich” and can afford to pay out of pocket for your own health care.   I would also assume that most paid staff earn salaries on the high end of the subsidy scale, which would mean that their subsidies are significantly smaller under the Obamacare rules than under FEHB.

A subsidy indexed to income is considered “fair” for ordinary Americans, so why not Congress as well?  Or all government employees, for that matter?   Don’t Democrats believe in a “level playing field”?

Technically this isn’t an Obamacare “waiver” for Congress, but it does illustrate the entitled attitude that Congress seems to have regarding itself.  A “title of nobility” indeed.

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  • jim_m

    Congress will never accept having to live under the same rules they impose upon us. It will take a constitutional amendment to force them to.

  • GarandFan

    Some animals are more “equal” than others.

  • Big surprise, this…

    Have we reached a “Let them eat cake” point yet?

    • LiberalNightmare

      5 yrs ago.

  • JWH

    I would also assume that most paid staff earn salaries on the high end of the subsidy scale, which would mean that their subsidies are significantly smaller under the Obamacare rules than under FEHB.

    For info: Most staffers’ salaries are in the 40s or 50s.

    • jim_m

      Most staffers’ salaries are in the 40s or 50s.

      That means that the work they do is really valued in the $20’s and $30’s according to the CBO

      Cry me a river for the poor government worker. Last year the average government worker earned 34% more than someone performing the equivalent job in the private sector. I guess it pays to be a parasite.

      • Brucehenry

        That’s funny because the link you posted says federal employees were paid 34% LESS, not more. It’s in the second sentence of the article.

        I don’t know where you got this graph.

        • jim_m

          I got it from Mother Jones.

          Here is a better article.

          THe issue is that at the highest level, gov employees get less because PhD’s and MBA’s etc can get far more in industry. But for the average worker the gov pays far, far in excess of the private sector:

          Federal and private-sector workers with bachelor’s degrees earned the same hourly wage on average. But those working for the federal government enjoyed average benefits that were worth 46% more.

          Federal workers with no more than a high school education are paid 21% more on average than their private-sector peers, and have average benefits worth 72% more.

          Where gov workers crush the private sector is in benefits where they get hugely lucrative benefits that private employees never get access to.

          So there are a few people at the top that earn far less because they could be making 6, 7 even 8 figure salaries and that skews the average way down.

          When you figure that for the average worker benefits contribute about 1/3 of total comp, the government worker is getting double or triple or more the value in their benefits.

          What’s more, gov employees often get a fixed benefit pension plan that is almost nonexistent today in the private sector and they also frequently get guaranteed health benefits after retirement, another thing that private sector workers never see anymore unless they belong to a union that is bankrupting the nation.

        • jim_m

          Here’s the money quote from the Mother Jones article:

          Nonetheless, when you look at the overall number, they figure that the federal government’s payroll is 16 percent higher than it would be if it paid its workers private sector scales.

          Mother Jones reiterates the point that the numbers are skewed when you look at high education employees, but I suspect that if you took into account the high levels of pay these people get from corrupt firms lobbying the government after they leave gov employ, the numbers would probably skew back the other way.

          • You can lead a tarbaby racist to knowledge, but you can’t make them learn.

  • Lawrence Westlake

    The truly surreal irony is that if a couple hundred waste cases back in ’08 in MN would have put down their comic books, set aside their litmus tests, taken a break from their video games, and from counting their trust fund monies, and gone ahead and “held their noses,” and voted for Norm Coleman over the SNL reject, rather than staying home and sending their messages, or whatever, none of this ever would have happened.

  • We The People pay all the taxes that pay the bills, government salaries, all the foreign countries poor mouthing, and yet we have nothing to show for it but more bitching from the lousy government, that we the people should pay more and get less. Same old crap, just a different day. Fire them all, the lousy pricks.

  • Jwb10001

    So I guess when Obama said if you like your insurance you can keep it, he just forgot to mention that only applies to the more equal animals.