The federal government's personnel office finalized rules Monday dictating how lawmakers and their staff will purchase health insurance through ObamaCare's new exchanges.
The rule finalizes a "fix" allowing the federal government to continue to contribute to the healthcare costs of lawmakers and staff.
Many Republicans have labeled the policy an "exemption" from ObamaCare, although lawmakers and their aides are not exempt from the requirement to buy ObamaCare policies.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) had tried to attach an amendment to government funding bills that would overturn the OPM's ruling, forcing lawmakers and their staffs to pay for their insurance out of pocket. So far, they have not succeeded.
At least two House Republicans have acknowledged that the policy is not an exemption from the healthcare law. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) reportedly told one of her constituents that Congress is not exempt, and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) also pushed back against talk of an exemption.
"No matter what you hear, Congress is not exempt from going on the exchange," Davis recently said. "I have to go on the exchange in October, and I can’t even get questions answered about what it’s going to mean for my wife’s ability to continue to see her doctors as she continues her fight, her 14-year fight, to make sure colon cancer doesn’t come back."
The Affordable Care Act says that insurance plans created by the law or sold through its exchanges are the only plans the federal government can make available to members of Congress and their staffers.
There had been a question about how that would work, since the federal government, like almost all large employers, contributes to its employees' healthcare costs, but the exchanges were designed for people who do not get insurance through an employer.
The OPM said Monday that lawmakers and their aides would have to get their coverage through Washington, D.C.'s exchange for small businesses, which is separate from the exchange for individuals.