Sunday, March 9, 2014
By Laurie Kellman
(Continued from page 1)
It all started with Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley and his amendment to Obama’s health care law that would have required members of Congress and staffers to get the health coverage offered through the exchanges.
During the drawn-out debate, Democrats insisted that their goal was merely to provide uninsured Americans with the same kinds of coverage and choices that members of Congress have.
Grassley, in effect, dared his Democratic counterparts to back up their rhetoric: a “no” vote on his proposal would have undercut the argument that the law’s supporters in Congress only wanted regular Americans to enjoy what they, themselves, had.
Grassley said his original intent was to put everyone who works for a member of Congress on the exchanges. But different language ultimately passed into law, and Grassley’s idea isn’t being applied as he intended.
In August, the Office of Personnel Management tossed the question back in Congress’ lap by saying lawmakers’ offices should individually decide which aides get insurance from where.
Grassley said Thursday he took the question and the “convoluted system” to the secretary of the Senate and came up with an answer. His personal staff will exit the federal insurance program and get health insurance from an exchange. But Grassley’s aides on the Senate Finance Committee will remain on the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program.
“That’s the law,” he said.