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              House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif.  gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, where she told  reporters that Congress has too much critical, unfinished work to be leaving for a five-week recess.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Members, staff will keep health-care subsidies under Obamacare

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Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

Members of Congress and Hill staffers will not lose their health-care subsidies from the government when Obamacare is implemented because of an exception proposed Wednesday by the Office of Personnel Management.

Under the current system, the government covers most of the cost of health-care premiums for members and their staffers. But an amendment to the Affordable Care Act — proposed by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley — threw those subsidies into question, saying that members and staff must enter into the exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.

The potential for staff losing the subsidies led to concerns of “brain drain” from the Hill if staffers left as a result of the increased costs.

Last week, when President Barack Obama came to the Hill to meet with Senate Democrats, he informed them that he would personally get involved to sort out the confusion, and the White House said that OPM would issue guidelines this week.

The guidelines, released Wednesday, allow for members and staff to retain their subsidies from the government, an exception in exchange for giving up “premium tax credits” that they would otherwise be eligible for under Obamacare.

“The amount of the employer contribution toward their Exchange premiums is no more than would otherwise be made toward coverage under the [Federal Employee Health Benefits] Program,” the OPM release notes.

“These proposed regulations implement the administrative aspects of switching Members of Congress and congressional staff to their new insurance plans — the same plans available to millions of Americans through the new Exchanges,” said Jon Foley, OPM Director of Planning and Policy, in a statement.

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