What is the rationale for exempting congress/executive from ACA?

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by CHFG8R, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. CHFG8R
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    CHFG8R Premium Member

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    This should really come as no surprise. The big players play both sides. Oil, Banking, Pharma, Insurance, etc. are deep into both parties. So, while we argue over the "dog and pony show" presented by the pols and media they always get what they want.
  2. FlyingGatorII
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    So, if I understand, the increases Congress face will be picked up by that 75%. For the sake of argument, let's say a congressman and I pay the same every month for our healthcare right now. To make it easy let's go with $1000. My employer cost goes up 40% that they pass on to me. I now pay $400 more a month. The congressman gets the same cost increase but it is totally picked up by the taxpayer so they still pay the same as always a month for the same coverage. They are effectively exempt from the biggest downside of ACA and you and I pay even more to cover their $400. Where am I wrong?
  3. FlyingGatorII
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    How do you respond to this?

    "Currently, members of Congress and their staff receive health care coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP). The FEHBP allows individuals to choose from a set of options to pick the health plan that is right for them. As with any employer-based health plan, the federal government (the employer) can contribute to the health care premium of the employee and the contributions are not included in taxes.

    However, Section 1312 of Obamacare requires that all members of Congress and congressional staff must either get their health care coverage from a health plan created by Obamacare or through an Obamacare exchange. Obamacare exchanges do not allow tax-exempt employer contributions to health care premiums. The only subsidies available to individuals on Obamacare are the premium tax credits for individuals who are under 400 percent of the federal poverty line (about $46,000 per year). The idea was, if Congress is going to write a law that forces tens of thousands of Americans on Obamacare through the individual mandate, Congress should be prepared to share in that experience.

    But now the administration is defeating the purpose of that idea by allowing special treatment for members of Congress and their staff. Instead of going on Obamacare and abiding by the same laws and requirements as everyone else in it, members of Congress can now receive tax-exempt contributions from their employer (the federal government) to their health care premiums on the Obamacare exchange. This will create one set of rules for the American people and a different set of rules for Congress."
  4. QGator2414
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    I fully admit as to being ignorant on the exact law as I am not going to read all the regulations along with the couple thousand original pages.

    That said.

    Do you know if it was written into the law that Congress and staffers must purchase their healthcare through the exchanges (ie their employer changed plans to the exchanges vs what they had before)?

    That is my understanding of the reality of the situation but I might be off. And my understanding is congress and the staffers do not want to be on the exchange. Hence the exemption.

    Let's follow the law instead of writing it and realizing you don't like what ironically your employer did in offering benefits (assuming I am seeing this correctly).
  5. GatorBen
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    GatorBen Well-Known Member

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    Except they are still buying on the exchange. Hence, not an exemption.
  6. QGator2414
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    Yep.

    We currently have a grandfathered plan but obamacare was created with the idea of eliminating plans like ours through compliances that become about impossible to maintain. Our fascist system at work. Too bad we do not move to a free market..l
  7. QGator2414
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    This changes things slightly from my understanding.
  8. FlyingGatorII
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    Can you explain this river?


    "Currently, members of Congress and their staff receive health care coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP). The FEHBP allows individuals to choose from a set of options to pick the health plan that is right for them. As with any employer-based health plan, the federal government (the employer) can contribute to the health care premium of the employee and the contributions are not included in taxes.

    However, Section 1312 of Obamacare requires that all members of Congress and congressional staff must either get their health care coverage from a health plan created by Obamacare or through an Obamacare exchange. Obamacare exchanges do not allow tax-exempt employer contributions to health care premiums. The only subsidies available to individuals on Obamacare are the premium tax credits for individuals who are under 400 percent of the federal poverty line (about $46,000 per year). The idea was, if Congress is going to write a law that forces tens of thousands of Americans on Obamacare through the individual mandate, Congress should be prepared to share in that experience.

    But now the administration is defeating the purpose of that idea by allowing special treatment for members of Congress and their staff. Instead of going on Obamacare and abiding by the same laws and requirements as everyone else in it, members of Congress can now receive tax-exempt contributions from their employer (the federal government) to their health care premiums on the Obamacare exchange. This will create one set of rules for the American people and a different set of rules for Congress."
  9. FlyingGatorII
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    Let me know what you find out as it appears we are both on the same side of this issue. I just see the statements from Libs like river about Congress not being exempt to be nothing but half truths and semantics. The truth as I see it is they have been given exemptions so they will not be effected like the rest of us. Not total exemptions mind you, but significant ones when it comes to avoiding the financial burden most of us will feel from the ACA.
  10. gatordowneast
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    gatordowneast Well-Known Member

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    He's likely spending his time trying to get a job online in the revved up Obama economy. Nothing better to do.
  11. QGator2414
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    Can you bullet point exactly what is happening and try to provide the reality of the situation?

    What is the exemption?
  12. GT Gator
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    Sort of....

    The reason I know quite a bit about ACA is because I work with the plan at my company. As I mention previously, my company pays 67% of the total plan costs and the employee pays 33%. We expect the total cost of administering our health plan to go right at 5%.

    So, if we have a family plan that costs $1,000 total a month, the employee would pay $330 or 33% of the total cost per month out of his paycheck to be enrolled.

    In 2014, we expect that same plan to cost $1,050. The employee will still pay 33% of the total cost. So, next year, it will him $346.50 (also a 5% increase).

    Congress and the rest of the Federal employees will work the exact same way. The 3.7% increase in the total cost will be partially (75%) be absorbed by taxpayers and partially (25%) paid for out of the paychecks of the Federal employees.

    In the end, the Congressman will see an additional his monthly contribution towards his health plan increase by 3.7%.

    It's still a really sh!tty law, but they're still not exempt.
  13. GT Gator
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    The whole issue discussed above is completely moot because Congress and its staffers are not being forced to buy their health plans on the exchanges.

    A ruling by the OPM (basically the O' Administration) back in August allows Congress and its staffers to remain in the FEHB plan (along with its 75% contribution).

    In other words, by a stroke of a pen, the whole Section 1312 was wiped out.

    Congress and its staffers can still buy healthcare from the exchanges, but why should they as long as they continue to get the same benefits they received prior to ACA?
  14. GT Gator
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    It was. But, it was also wiped out by the OPM ruling in August that allows Congress and its staffers to remain in the FEHB Plan.

    The Republicans put Section 1312 in there to make sure Congress "felt the pain."

    Obama wiped out all the pain with a stroke of a pen this past August with the OPM ruling.
  15. GatorBen
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    There isn't an exemption. And it doesn't mean "they won't be affected like the rest of us," because the entire reason this situation exists in the first place is because Congress is subject to a requirement that your employer couldn't place on you.

    The law directs Congress to purchase healthcare through public exchanges. If a large employer directed his full-time employees to purchase healthcare through public exchanges, he would be out of compliance with the employer mandate. That alone makes this comparison academic only, because it's comparing Congress's situation to something that won't happen in the private field (and putting Congress in a worse position than an employee of a large employer subject to the employer mandate would be).

    That being said, the effect of the OPM Rule is to allow Congress and its employees to receive the same pre-tax employer contribution that they were receiving before they were directed to go onto the public exchanges. Again, not terribly unusual in and of itself - I am still receiving the same pre-tax employer contribution to my premiums that I was prior to the ACA, just I am not being forced onto the exchanges.

    The part where the different treatment comes in? A large employer wouldn't be allowed to push his employees onto the public exchange and still reimburse an employer contribution pre-tax (were it possible, an HRA would likely have been the mechanism to do so). But keep in mind, a large employer also can't push his employees onto the public exchange to start with and still be in compliance with the employer mandate.

    Essentially you wind up with an interplay of provisions where, what is being done with Congress's plan to keep employer contributions pre-tax is something that can't be done by a private employer looking to have his employees buy their own insurance on the public exchange with pre-tax employer contributions. But the entire reason it can't be done is because of rules that were adopted to keep an employer from trying to set up a health plan that put his employees on the public exchange to start with.

    So it's a fairly silly comparison. Because Congress is legally obligated to obtain health insurance in a way that it would have been illegal for a private employer to require its employees to do to start with, the way their employer contributions are structured are obviously different from what a private employer would be able to do.

    But end of the day? The law says Congress must buy health plans on the public exchange, and Congress will be buying health plans on the public exchange. Thus, no exemption.
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  16. FlyingGatorII
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    So Obama changed part of a law regarding Congress and the ACA that was already passed without going back to Congress to legislate it. Firstly I question the legality/constitutionality of this. Secondly, call it what you want but IMO it was a way to exempt Congress from the effects of it's own law IMO and it was done after Congressional Democrats complained about their participation in a law they voted for. This brings us back to the original topic. Let's not forget it was a law passed with no bi-partisan support and only passed after bribes to the Senators from Louisiana and Nebraska.
  17. FlyingGatorII
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    So how can someone looking out solely for my interests go into a law and change it after it was passed,without any debate or vote, in a way that makes it better for me and my family and leave other parts the same? Is this constitutional?
  18. GT Gator
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    That's not entirely true.

    First, the employer mandate doesn't go into effect until 2015.

    Second, an employer can opt not to offer coverage for a penalty of just $3,000 per year per employee. That may sound expensive, but it's still significantly cheaper in most cases than offering an ACA-compliant policy to an employee (especially older employees).
  19. GatorBen
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    OPM issuing regulations on how the provision is implemented certainly isn't unconstitutional. The legal debate (at least the serious one) is over whether or not the way they structured it fits within a permissible definition of certain words used within a few different statutes that OPM is charged with administering.

    My broader point isn't on legality though, it's that "Congress should be made to feel the pain of something that my employer would face large fines if they did to me!" (which is essentially what this boils down to) is silly.
  20. GT Gator
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    He sure did.

    He's been doing that since the beginning of his presidency. He's not enforcing immigration law. He's not enforcing welfare reform laws. He's not enforcing Federal drug laws on marijuana (I'm glad he's not in this case).

    Basically, he's does whatever he wants and the MSM completely gives him a complete pass.

    Still, I don't think offering FEHB to Congress and its staffers makes Congress "exempt" from ACA.

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