Congress, staffers to escape Obamacare in retirement

There’s a new wrinkle in the controversial Obamacare exemption for those who work on Capitol Hill. In addition to a generous 75% subsidy to cover the cost of pricey health plans on the exchange, members of Congress and their staffers will be able to revert back to coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program when they decide to retire:

Under a rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) late last year, members and staff who retire will be able to revert back to health coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). That’s the same coverage that thousands of other federal workers can use when they retire.

 

The FEHBP lets government retirees choose from a range of options, including health savings accounts, PPOs or HMOs. And none of it has anything to do with ObamaCare.

OPM had not included a retirement escape clause in its August draft of the rule on congressional coverage. But this flexibility was added in its October 2 final rule, after “numerous commenters” called on OPM to reconsider.

OPM ultimately agreed with those commenters, and said that when read closely, the law only applies to members and staff “while they are employed in those positions.”

A February 18 report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) puts it plainly. “[T]he final rule allows members and designated congressional staff who are eligible for retirement to enroll in a FEHBP plan upon retirement,” CRS summarized.

So not only are members and staffers getting a hefty, taxpayer-funded subsidy and even exempting some of their aides from Obamacare — including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) — they’re going to avoid Obamacare all together when they retire. There you go, folks, another example of Washington not playing by its own rules.


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