Health Insurance Exchange Exemptions

Apr 28, 2013

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to exempt members of Congress and their staffs from participating in new health insurance exchanges. While critics say the idea is hypocritical … at least one lawmaker in the region says it’s a valid option.

Starting next year lawmakers and the majority of Hill staffers are slated to move off of the normal federal health care plan and onto new insurance exchanges being set up under the health care law. But now some lawmakers are getting cold feet and are looking for ways to exempt low paid Hill staffers from the exchanges.
“You know I could probably support it because I’m looking out for my staff. I know how hard they work,” says Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA).   He adds that he’s not opposed to going on an insurance exchange, but he says the program was never intended to supplement existing health insurance programs, like the one provided by the government. “The exchanges were set up for people who don’t get quality, affordable health insurance.”

Critics say the idea of exempting lawmakers and Hill employees from exchanges that will soon service millions of Americans reeks of hypocrisy.

Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Rigell vows to do all he can to stop this movement. “It’s irreconcilable with the will of the American people. The American people truly are desperate for leadership by example. This is the antithesis of this.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to tamp down the debate that was started by a Politico story this week. His office denies there was ever a discussion of exempting lawmakers or their staffs from the exchanges.