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That was close! Congress ALMOST had to pay for their own healthcare

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Congress has managed to keep their generous federal subsidies for healthcare, while the rest of America will be expected to pay more beginning in 2014. A ruling by the Office of Personnel Management has let Congress off the hook.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In a ruling issued Wednesday, lawmakers and their staffs will continue to receive a generous federal subsidy that helps to pay for their healthcare. Although Obamacare compels lawmakers and their staffs to buy insurance through the same exchanges as other Americans, the law did not clearly state they could also continue to receive the generous federal subsidy for healthcare.

Enter the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the program. That office ruled on Wednesday that lawmakers and their staffs could continue to receive government subsidies for their healthcare.

Although they must now buy health insurance through the same exchanges as other Americans, they will not face the steep cost increases confronting many Americans. The subsidies will cover 75 percent of their costs.

Officials in Congress and in the OPM, expressed concern that without the subsidies, Congress and their staffers would leave service, causing what Reuters referred to in one report as "brain drain" in the capitol.

The entire notion that members of Congress and their staffs get preferential treatment under Obamacare is offensive. Congressional pay is high, and for all that money, few Americans feel they are not getting much value for their taxes.

Meanwhile, Americans face increases of various sorts beginning in January. Those who have insurance will see their premiums increase while those without insurance will either need to start buying it or will face a punishing tax for refusing to do so. That will reduce monthly household budgets by at least one to two hundred dollars per individual, at a minimum.

The government will provide subsidies for low-income buyers. The rest of working America will just have to make do with less money in the monthly budget.

However, in this case, the government is also providing subsidies for Congress. Congressional representatives are already awash with money, compared to the average American. To see them balk at the cost of a law they themselves passed, then to watch as they exempt themselves from its costs, is galling.

Republicans have already slammed the decision, in a bid to build political capital against the Obama administration. However, it should be noted these same Republicans are also getting the subsidies.

All along, it should be clear that Congress never intended to subject itself to the pain of Obamacare, except in theory. Congress must buy plans through exchanges, but you will continue to pay their tab.

According to the IRS, the cheapest Obamacare plan is $20,000 per family of four. While the IRS has a significant credibility issue, the evidence all points the same direction, upwards. Many of the currently insured will see rates double.

Employers, concerned about the skyrocketing costs, will also begin dumping coverage either by cutting workers hours, cutting jobs, or opting to pay the penalty rather than the coverage. What decision each employer makes will depend on their unique situation, including how disposable their employees are.

Specialized employers that require skilled labor will likely treat their employees well and continue to provide generous insurance benefits. Mid-sized companies with numbers of employees near the threshold requiring them to provide insurance, will take steps to remain below that number.

Large employers with unskilled staffs will either increase their part-time staff by cutting hours and hiring new employees, or will opt to pay the penalties. Restaurants have already declared their intention to cut hours, and in some states such as California, those reductions have long been institutionalized, requiring service workers to find second jobs.

Meanwhile, Congress will continue to benefit from the best insurance plans, paid for by the same taxpayers who will struggle to pay their own premiums each month.

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