Mark Blumenthal | November 19, 2009
Topics: Harry Reid , Health Care Reform , Insurance Exchange
So my advice to President Obama . . . Challenge Congress to pass a reform bill that requires all members to obtain their health insurance the same way as those without employer-provided health insurance -- through the newly created health care exchanges, rather than the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan. The two systems are conceptually similar -- similar enough that the pledge could help sell voters on the benefits of the exchange itself.
"...it comes out there:"
[O]ne of the decisions Harry Reid had to make in reconciling the HELP Committee and Finance Committee was whether or not to require Members of Congress to purchase their insurance the same way everyone else does. The Finance Committee would have required all Members of Congress to give up their Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan and buy insurance through the new exchanges instead, while the HELP bill would allow them to keep their exclusive health care plans.
The final bill's out, and Reid chose to include the Finance Committee language. Straight form the bill text:
(d) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE.
(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 Act).