CBO: Ending ObamaCare ‘exemption’ adds to deficit

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Friday that a Republican-backed plan to force more high-level officials and staffers to obtain their insurance through ObamaCare would add nearly $1 billion to the deficit.
 
The CBO estimates that ending the so-called ObamaCare exemption for members of Congress and staff and forcing officials like President Obama to enroll in an ObamaCare exchange would add $978 million to the deficit over 10 years. The plan would deny the office-holders and staff the premium support they now get from the government.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The main reason for the increase is that it would raise the number of people who get subsidies to pay for their insurance in the form of refundable tax credits under ObamaCare, the CBO said. 
 
In addition, thousands of federal employees could be motivated to retire earlier and begin collecting retirement benefits if they were stripped of their healthcare premium support, the CBO added.  
 
Just before the Oct. 1 government shutdown, the House backed legislation to end what Republicans call the ObamaCare exemption.
 
Under current law, members of Congress and staff will have to obtain their health coverage from ObamaCare in 2014 rather than through the federal government’s health plan. 
 
Under a ruling from the Office of Personnel Management, the members and staff have been granted an exemption to receive premium support from their employer, the federal government.
 
Republicans decry this exemption, but supporters say the ObamaCare exchanges are designed to insure millions without employer-based subsidies. They argue that the exemption just ensures hardworking staff are not given a giant pay cut.
 
Cutting the members, official and staff off from subsidies would save $2 billion in discretionary spending over 10 years, the CBO said. But the savings would be more than offset by increased direct spending and lost revenue.
 
During the debt-ceiling fight, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tried at the last minute to rally support for a House GOP bill containing the ObamaCare exemption language.  

The plan was shelved after conservatives said it did not do enough to end ObamaCare and centrists complained that it would add to the deficit while hurting staff morale.
 
— This story was updated at 1:23 p.m.