…the federal government is the largest employer in the country. So Grassley’s amendment means that the largest employer in the country is required to put some of its employees — the ones working for Congress — on the exchanges. But the exchanges don’t have any procedures for handling premium contributions for large employers.
That’s where the problem comes in. This was an offhand amendment that was supposed to be rejected. It’s not clear that the federal government has the authority to pay for congressional staffers on the exchanges, the way it pays for them now in the federal benefits program. That could lead to a lot of staffers quitting Congress because they can’t afford to shoulder 100 percent of their premiums….
But no one is discussing “exempting” congressional staffers from Obamacare. They’re discussing creating some method through which the federal government can keep making its current contribution to the health insurance of congressional staffers.
While Congress may not be exempting itself from ObamaCare, Klein misses the fact that Congress is creating a special privilege for its staffers. No other employer can make a contribution to his employees’ insurance should hisemployees purchase it on the exchange in 2014. (Small business were supposed to be able to do this via the SHOP program, but that has been postponed until at least 2015). The soonest a big business would be able to make a contribution to an employee’s insurance would be 2017.
Unless, of course, you are staffer working on Capitol Hill. In that case you will be getting what no other purchaser in the exchange will be getting in 2014, an employer contribution—assuming Congress has its way.
There’s a term for that: It’s “Privileged Class.”
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