June 14, 2013 at 10:10 am / by Special Contributor
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Lawmakers and Staff Fear High Premiums
Members of the House and Senate and their aides are scrambling to avoid skyrocketing health insurance premiums anticipated when Obamacare takes effect on January 1.
Rumors are swirling on Capitol Hill that without a waiver from Obamacare, lawmakers and their staffs will quit Congress amid a growing fear that they cannot afford higher premiums.
Lawmakers and their staffs are accustomed to a generous federal health insurance plan that subsidizes nearly 75 percent of premiums.
But starting next year, the only health care coverage made available to members of Congress and their employees by the federal government will be coverage offered through Obamacare.
The switch from a well-subsidized federal healthcare plan to Obamacare was included in the so-called Affordable Care Act when it was passed in 2010. The intention: Members of the House, Senate, and their staffs should be subjected to the same law that applies to everyone else in the country.
Earlier this year, there were reports that House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were secretly confronting the problem that threatens to see lawmakers and their aides leave Congress rather than pay higher health insurance premiums. Now the dilemma is out in the open.
Members of the House and Senate are paid $l74,000 a year plus allowances for certain expenses. The House Speaker is paid $223,000 annually while the Senate Majority Leader is paid $193,400.
Annual salaries for Congressional aides vary from about $35,000 for junior staffers to about $170,000 for those with years of service.
Politico reports that the results of the growing concern on Capitol Hill could be twofold. Some junior staff will head for the private sector early, while more seasoned aides and lawmakers could leave before the end of the year so they can continue under the old plan.
Obamacare is on the rocks. The healthcare overhaul is hopelessly behind schedule with a looming deadline of October 1 for beginning enrollment in insurance exchanges nationwide and full implementation of the program on January 1.
Now, at the last minute, Congress is in a panic with the realization that the same expensive and flawed healthcare program will apply to them as well as their constituents.
When Obamacare was passed in 2010, Congress agreed to be included in the plan to dodge criticism from voters. As the day of reckoning grows closer, they seek a waiver to protect themselves. No wonder public approval of Congress is at an all-time low.