Watchdog groups: Congress treated as ‘small business’ so reps, staffers get O-care advantage

Watchdog groups: Congress treated as ‘small business’ so reps, staffers get O-care advantage

[Ed. – Remember, while you read this, all those middle-class Americans, actual small business employees, who lost the insurance they liked at the end of 2013 and have never recovered. from it.]

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, the lobbying arm of the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste, led the coalition in filing the complaint to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. The organizations involved are calling for an investigation into whether members of Congress and their staff violated laws by claiming to be a “small business” in order to buy their insurance and qualify for taxpayer-funded subsidies.

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, required that members of Congress and their staff enroll in individual plans through the healthcare exchanges created by the law,” the group said in a press release. “As open enrollment approached in 2014, members and staff realized that by enrolling as individuals, they would no longer receive generous taxpayer-funded contributions to help pay their insurance premiums as they had for decades under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. They would instead only qualify for subsidies if their household income was less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, just like millions of other Americans that had to purchase insurance in the individual market.”

The group notes that senators worked with the White House and the Office of Personnel Management for guidance on how to enroll in the Small Business Health Options Program in order to skirt any obstacles.

On October 2, 2013, the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) used a federal regulation to deem Congress a small business despite its having more than 12,000 employees and dependents. Additionally, individual congressional offices do not directly pay salaries—their payment comes from the House of Representatives and Senate.

The group says this was done in order to allow members of Congress and their staff to have access to the taxpayer-funded subsidies.

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