Employees on the Federal payroll are currently making it very clear that they have no desire to be part of any government healthcare scheme other than the exclusionary (and enviable by most private-sector standards) Federal Employees Healthcare Benefits Program (FEHBP).
From the marbled halls of Congress to offices operated by the Internal Revenue Service (and anywhere else Federal workers are toiling away), the suggestion that government should need only one bureaucratic healthcare scheme is outrageous. Instead, many Federal workers would insist, the government should continue providing exemplary healthcare to its most loyal subjects — those drawing payroll checks signed by Uncle Sam — and reserve the experience of dredging through the less-appealing options on the Obamacare exchange for the proletariat.
Such was the opinion of members of Congress and their staffs when they discovered (fully illuminating the stupidity of a certain California Democrat’s 2010 proclamation that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” for a group who evidently missed it at the time) that the healthcare law required them to participate in the exchanges.
The Wall Street Journal noted in a recent piece:
[T]he statute means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice “Medicaid Plus” of the exchanges. The Members—annual salary: $174,000—and their better paid aides also wouldn’t qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs.
The result was a full wig out on Capitol Hill, with Members of both parties fretting about “brain drain” as staff face higher health-care costs. Democrats in particular begged the White House for help, claiming the Reid language was merely an unintentional mistake. President Obama told Democrats in a closed-door meeting last week that he would personally moonlight as HR manager and resolve the issue.
President Barack Obama stepped in to violate — or, if you’re a Democrat or Congressional employee, “fix a glitch in” — his own mandate by suspending the law long enough to create a double standard.
Congressional employees’ salaries were too high for them to qualify for Obamacare subsidies on the exchange, but the President decided that their political connections were reason enough to give them subsidies that exist for no private-sector worker making $174,000 each year. Those in favor of the change contend that Congressional staffers are government employees, so the government subsidies for government healthcare are simply similar to an employer contribution to a private-sector healthcare plan.
Without the subsidies, staffers and members of Congress who wished to have healthcare coverage nearer the adequate side of the “Medicaid Plus” spectrum would have had to pony up some cash.
In a nutshell, Obamacare sucks so badly that even the people who created it don’t want to gamble having its lower-tier coverage; but the healthcare plan is so expensive that even $174,000 a year isn’t enough to comfortably fit the premium options in the budget.
Other Federal employees are paying attention to what just happened on Capitol Hill, mainly because Representative Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is pushing legislation that would require them to trade in their lavish FEHBP for Obamacare.
But, remember, not all government-run healthcare programs are created equal. The National Treasury Employees Union has drafted a form letter that Federal employees opposed to the idea of suffering Obamacare can send to their local lawmakers.
H.R. 1780 would put federal employees in a special class where they would be prohibited from receiving health insurance through their employer. It would treat federal employees differently from state and local government employees and most employees of large private sector companies who receive health insurance benefits through their employer. The primary purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to provide a marketplace for the sale and purchase of health insurance for those who do not have such coverage – not to take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers.
I work hard and am proud of the services that I provide to your constituents every day. One of the main benefits I receive as a federal employee is the ability to purchase health insurance coverage through the FEHBP with an employer contribution towards those benefits.
Considering the political power enjoyed by public sector unions in the United States and the fact that fewer than 3 percent of Federal employees like the idea of being on Obamacare, Camp’s legislation is likely going nowhere in Congress. Even if it does, the precedent set by the members of the political class working in Congress would probably apply.
If you are a member of Congress, an employee of one or a person who is otherwise employed by the Federal government, enjoy your subsidized, top-tier Obamacare and FEHBP.
If you’re not a government employee, but are self-employed, enjoy whichever version of Obamacare you want to shell out cash for — or just pay the penalty incurred for not signing up.
If you’re a small-business owner, you may want to just have a beer and work out a contingency plan.
And if you are one of America’s poor, a member of the trodden-upon group at the heart of Obama’s healthcare benevolence, enjoy a reincarnation of the same sort of inefficient, inhibiting and bureaucratically nonsensical government-handout programs that are familiar to so many who have slipped below the poverty line. You should know by now that political talk of compassion is all a farce and that the good handouts are reserved for the political class.