Mark Blumenthal | October 6, 2009
Topics: Health Care Reform
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 [FEHBP]. The two systems are conceptually similar -- similar enough that the pledge could help sell voters on the benefits of the exchange itself.
Well, in doing research on what aspects of the Senate Finance health reform bill take effect when, I noticed this interesting provision as described by the very helpful Kaiser Family Foundation tool for making Side-by-Side comparisons of the various Congressional bills. The Senate Finance Bill appears to be the only one that includes this provision: "Provide elected officials and federal employees the option of purchasing coverage through the exchanges or through FEHBP."
In other words, while not mandatory, any member of Congress could choose to buy their coverage through the same mechanism that will be offered to those who currently lack insurance.
So, a bit more unsolicited advice for any member of Congress thinking about voting for health care reform: First, make sure this provision stays in whatever version of the bill gets to the floor of the House and Senate. Second, make a pledge, loud and clear, to buy your coverage though the exchange once it goes into effect in 2013.
And pollsters, if you haven't tested this message yet for your clients, you should. The script for the TV ad practically writes itself.