Congressmen and their staffs have been agitating for months about contributions by the government to their insurance plans. Obamacare requirements would prevent the government from subsidizing premiums for most Hill workers and congress claims it would add thousands of dollars to their health insurance bill every year, leading to a "brain drain" of staff.
They needn't have worried.
The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue a ruling that says the government can continue to make a contribution to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their aides, according to several Hill sources.
A White House official confirmed the deal and said the proposed regulations will be issued next week.
Just Wednesday, POLITICO reported that President Barack Obama told Democratic senators that he was personally involved in finding a solution.
The problem was rooted in the original text of the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) inserted a provision which said members of Congress and their aides must be covered by plans "created" by the law or "offered through an exchange." Until now, OPM had not said if the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program could contribute premium payments toward plans on the exchange. If payments stopped, lawmakers and aides would have faced thousands of dollars in additional premium payments each year. Under the old system, the government contributed nearly 75 percent of premium payments.
Obama's involvement in solving this impasse was unusual, to say the least. But it came after serious griping from both sides of the aisle about the potential of a "brain drain." The fear, as told by sources in both parties, was that aides would head for more lucrative jobs, spooked by the potential for spiking health premiums.
There was a certain sense of urgency, too, since enrollment in the exchanges was set to begin Oct. 1. There were discussions of a legislative fix - attaching language to a must-pass bill to fix the problem. But that would've been too difficult in today's paralyzed Washington.
White House officials acknowledged that a fix was needed. But they knew that once they dealt with it through a regulation, some Republicans would use it against them - even though most of their party was privately obsessing over it.
So members of congress and their staffs will be able to purchase the most expensive policy available on the exchange and you and I will pick up most of the tab.
Premium increases that are going to slam millions of American families won't be felt on Capitol Hill because, at bottom, they believe they are better than the rest of us. They are more valuable to society than you. They deserve special privileges because their work is so important while the work you do is meaningless.
That's the way that Communist party officials felt in the old Soviet Union which is how they ended up with Dachas on the Black Sea and limos to carry them around Moscow in special lanes free of other traffic.
We are fools to put up with this.