Congress, staff required to buy gold ObamaCare plans (Video)

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Regulations issued by the Obama administration this week would require members of Congress to buy one of the top-tier insurance plans from the ObamaCare exchanges.

The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the House sent guidance to members of Congress this week, based on a directive from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), that says they must choose plans from the "gold" level of insurance coverage, not "bronze" or "silver" plans. "Platinum" is the only higher level of coverage under the exchanges. 

"For plan year 2014, Members of Congress and designated congressional staff will choose from 112 options in the Gold Metal tier on the DC SHOP," CAO said in a fact sheet that was emailed to Congress.

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Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) called attention to this requirement in a House floor speech Thursday, in which he said the policy shows more favoritism toward members of Congress and their staff.

"We all … have to go and get the gold policy. Not the bronze, not the silver, the gold policy from the exchange. That's the only one we can get," he said.

"You see, bronze and silver's only good enough for everyone else in the country. For members of Congress and members of the Senate and their staff, it's gold or nothing."

The fact sheet also says that the only way for members of Congress to get subsidies for their insurance plan is by using the Washington, D.C., health insurance exchange, or SHOP.

"All Members of Congress, including representatives of U.S. Territories, and their designated staff will be required to purchase health insurance via the DC SHOP in order to receive a Government contribution," it says. "The DC SHOP offers health plan options with in-network access to medical providers across the nation and overseas."

Harris said allowing members to be subsidized for only buying gold-level coverage is probably why many members don't want to eliminate the subsidy for Congress, something Republicans have been pushing.

"That's why this fight has been for a clean CR. No one wants to remove that exemption," he said.