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It Is Bittersweet That 90% of Congressional Staffers Are Unhappy With Exchange Coverage

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Hill staffers are extremely unhappy about being forced onto the exchanges just like ordinary people

A special provision in the Affordable Care Act is forcing many Congressional staffers on to the D.C. exchange and many are not happy with the results. From Politico:

Ninety percent of staffers surveyed for a report released Monday by the Congressional Management Foundation said they are concerned about benefit changes under the health care law, while 86 percent are anxious about the financial hit and 79 percent cited worries to access. […]

“With the changes in health care this year, even with [the] subsidy from Congress, my insurance will more than double with the deductible more than doubling as well,” one aide wrote in the survey. “That is for 3 people. How is this affordable? The entire staff is in this same position.”

This is bittersweet for me. On one hand I think a serious problem with our government is that some Congressional staffers are significantly underpaid which causes a brain drain to K Street. Lobbyists write so many bills in part because they are often the only ones with the necessary skills. In general, if you want good regulators you need to pay them well or they will just be bought up by the industry they are supposed to regulate. Sadly this just makes the problem worse.

On the other hand, I’m extremely happy people in Congress are getting to experience just how shitty coverage on the exchanges is. The so called “silver” plans would be more accurately labelled “one-ply toilet paper” plans to describe the level of protection they really offer. A $5,000 deductible and $12,700 out-of-pocket limit would be a tough hit for even an upper middle class family. Reading numbers in a policy memo just don’t translate the same way.

The fact that Congress is directly experiencing this should, hopefully, increase the chance that something will eventually be done to improve this situation. As we saw during the sequester fight one of the only issues that got fixed right away had to do with possible flight delays, a problem which would have actually impacted frequent flying Congress members.

Photo by jcolman under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at