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Blog: Do Members of Congress Receive Free Health Care?


Location: Washington, DC

There is a common misconception that Members of Congress do not have to pay for health insurance.

Members of Congress and their staff are covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. My staff and I are able to choose among several different plans also available to Americans across the country, and we all must pay premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, just like constituents like you*, while choosing from the same list of providers as everyone else in the plan. Additionally, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- also known as Obamacare -- is implemented, my staff and I will be absorbed into the insurance exchanges. There is no exemption for Members of Congress or their staff, and in fact, the ACA specifically states we must be included**.

I firmly believe in the importance of all laws applying equally to all American citizens: constituents, Members of Congress, the President, Vice President, their staff, and those who work in the federal government. I never supported Obamacare because it is not sound policy (and I introduced my alternative health care plan: H.R. 2688, The PATIENT Health Care Act), but if my fellow Americans have to endure the harsh impacts and costs as a result of this law, I will stand and endure with them until we can find a better solution.

Further, in order to ensure everyone receives the same health care as my constituents, I have co-sponsored H.R. 1780. This legislation was introduced on April 26, 2013, by Rep. Dave Camp (MI-4) and would extend these provisions of Obamacare to the President, Vice President and their staff.

You can rest assured I will not support any deal nor vote in favor of any legislation that would create a carve-out exemption for Members of Congress or their staff under Obamacare. And I pay for my own health insurance and health care every month -- just like you.

UPDATE 8/2/2013: After I posted my blog, this article came out last night in Politico: Hill gets Obamacare fix. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has the power to declare that the government can make a contribution to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their staff, similar to a private company (Note: Congress never voted on this; OPM is like the human resource department for the federal government). Here is a more detailed description, from the Politico article:

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.

As I stated above, I do not support plans that creates exemptions for Members of Congress or their staff that aren't available to my constituents.

*Currently, the federal government pays an average of 72% of the cost of employees health coverage (leaving federal employees paying an average of 28% of the cost of their health coverage).

This is in contrast to the private sector where large employers, offering employee health coverage, pay between 75% (family coverage) and 82% (individual coverage) of the cost, leaving private sector employees paying only 18-25% of the cost of their health insurance coverage.

Citation: 2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey. Rep. N.p.: Kaiser Family Foundation, n.d. Web. 02 Aug. 2013. <2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey>.

**The below excerpt comes from Page 65 of the actual bill text (H.R. 3590) , which can be found through this link

(i) REQUIREMENT.--Notwithstanding any other
provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle,
the only health plans that the Federal Government
may make available to Members of Congress and
congressional staff with respect to their service as a
Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be
health plans that are--
(I) created under this Act (or an amendment
made by this Act); or
(II) offered through an Exchange established
under this Act (or an amendment made by this

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