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Congressional benefits under ACA spelled out, compared


Congress is currently in the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as the ACA or Obamacare. This seems like a good time to look at the ACA healthcare benefits that are provided to members of Congress and their staffs at taxpayer expense, and how they differ from ACA coverage available to the rest of the citizenry.

The exchange from which they may obtain coverage is The District of Columbia’s Small Business Health Options Program, DC SHOP, also known as DC Health Link.

For members of Congress and staff the premiums are the same regardless of age, geographic location or use of tobacco.

They may also obtain coverage for family members, including adopted and foster children.

Taxpayers pay 72-75 percent of the premium for the policy that members and staff obtain from DC SHOP. This percentage is not affected by the federal salary paid to members of Congress or staff. For example, Rep. Dan Newhouse’s salary is $174,000 annually and the taxpayers still pay 72-75 percent of his premium.

For the rest of us, the ACA provides no supplement if one earns 400 percent of the poverty level (around $97,200 in 2016).

If a member of Congress or staff person works for five years or more, he or she may continue to receive coverage during retirement through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB).

Under the rules of the ACA, simultaneous coverage by Medicare and an exchange policy is not allowed. However, members of Congress and staff are exempt from this rule and may sign up for both.

This information is available in a report published for members and committees of Congress on Feb. 13, 2017 by the Congressional Research Service.

William Kilby


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