Politics
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. walks to a closed-door briefing by national security officials on the situation in Syria, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Reid defends Obamacare exemption for Congress: ‘That’s what the law says’

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid defended the special Obamacare exemptions carved out for lawmakers and their staff on Thursday during a Capitol press conference, insisting that Congress members and staff will participate in Obamacare’s exchanges.

Responding to the hoopla surrounding the health insurance policies on Capitol Hill, the Nevada Democrat flatly stated Thursday, “That’s what the law says, and we’ll be part of that.”

Reid said the Republicans and critics are just using the issue as a “diversion” to “try and embarrass the president.”

“Let’s stop these really juvenile political games,” Reid said. “The one dealing with healthcare for Senators and House members and our staff. We are going to be part of exchanges.”

The Office of Personnel Management announced in August that it plans to provide a subsidy of about 75 percent of the cost for the healthcare of members and staff.

The Obamacare fix for lawmakers and staff was made because the Affordable Care Act includes an amendment from a Republican senator that changes how the government currently covers most of the cost of health-care premiums for members and their staffers.

The new law mandates that members and staff must enter into exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.

Lawmakers worried about a potential “brain drain” — Capitol Hill staffers leaving work because of the increased costs of health care — and therefore wanted the fix.

While Republicans are protesting the subsidy, Reid argued it’s typical for employers to pay for healthcare costs of employees.

“We’ll be treated like the rest of the federal employees,” he said Thursday. “It’s nothing unique that employers help pay for health care. Ford Motor Company, Sears, doesn’t matter.”

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