Capitol Hill could face exodus over healthcare

The vast majority of Capitol Hill staffers are worried about changes, costs and access to their healthcare plans under ObamaCare, and the worry could provoke an exodus of talent, a new survey found.

The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) interviewed 163 Capitol Hill staffers in November and December, and found 91 percent said they were worried about possible changes to their healthcare benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

In addition, 87 percent said they were worried about the cost of their new health insurance, and 82 percent said they had concerns about access to local healthcare providers.

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A Republican amendment to the 2010 law requires members of Congress and their staffs to buy insurance though the health insurance exchanges.

The law allows the federal government to continue offering an employer subsidy for these plans, but Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is suing the Obama administration to end the practice. A handful of House Republicans have also proposed legislation to end that financial assistance.

Republicans say the subsidy gives members of Congress a financial benefit that ordinary citizens using the exchanges don’t get.


Supporters of the law say the exchanges were meant for people without insurance and requiring members and staffers to sign up is a deviation that was demanded by Republicans for political reasons.

“The elimination of staff's traditional healthcare has been a complete disaster,” one senior manager said in the survey. “If you wanted a legislative branch run by K Street lobbyists and 25-year-old staffers, mission accomplished.”

Thirty-eight percent of congressional staffers said they planned to look for a new job in the next year. Of those, 79 percent cited changes to healthcare benefits as one of the primary drivers of their unhappiness.

The CMF survey acknowledged that the timing of the survey might have contributed to the overwhelmingly negative responses. The poll was conducted between Nov. 18 and Dec. 6, a chaotic time for the law, when staffers were still being briefed on changes to their plans.