OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Congress races to sign up for ObamaCare

Congress raced Monday to meet the deadline for signing up for the District of Columbia's ObamaCare exchange, where most lawmakers and staff will obtain healthcare coverage starting next year. 



The cut-off date capped several weeks of speculation about how many members would transfer themselves and their staff from the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program into the new marketplaces. 



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The rush to navigate the system also came after several reported issues with the D.C. Health Link website over the last few weeks, complicating staffers' efforts to enroll in health plans by Dec. 9. 



A massive influx into the D.C. marketplace seemed clear as of Monday afternoon. 

While a handful of lawmakers indicated they would purchase their own health plans, most appeared poised to enter D.C.'s exchange with their staffers. 



That marketplace will allow Capitol Hill workers to continue receiving a generous employer healthcare subsidy from the government. 

A partial tally compiled by The Washington Post found that all congressional leaders, at least 55 senators and two potential GOP presidential hopefuls — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — would sign up for D.C. Health Link. 

Graham: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced Monday that he would not seek an employer contribution from the federal government to help cover the cost of some of his healthcare. Republicans have sought to frame the employer contribution as a carve-out under the federal healthcare law for government workers. Like most workers who get coverage through their employers in the private sector, the federal government partially subsidizes healthcare plans for public employees. Graham said Monday he would enroll in South Carolina’s federally run healthcare exchange. Had he enrolled in the Washington, D.C., exchange, he would’ve been eligible for a federal subsidy.

Graham is facing primary challenges from a number of candidates in 2014. He’s recently struggled with low approval ratings among Republicans in his home state. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

IRS: Two House Republicans want to know what the IRS is going to do to make sure that ObamaCare tax subsidies aren’t susceptible to fraud. Reps. Diane Black (Tenn.) and Pat Meehan (Pa.) told the agency that they were concerned the IRS was not adopting a plan to correct failed security tests for systems overseeing key healthcare tax credits. A Treasury inspector general reported last week that the IRS had yet to finalize its strategy for battling fraud concerns, and that its systems for protecting private information had flaws. Bernie Becker at The Hill reports.

Quotable: Zeke Emanuel's frequent defense of ObamaCare on television is hurting the White House's cause, Karl Rove said Monday.

“Frankly, as an opponent of ObamaCare I hope they keep putting Dr. Emanuel on television,” Rove said on Fox News. “But if they really do want to engage in a P.R. campaign, my advice would be stop letting him go on television and [be] the face of the program, because it ain’t a very attractive face and voice.” Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

State by State:

More than 100,000 New Yorkers have enrolled in ObamaCare, The Hill reports.

Maine isn’t ready to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, The Bangor Daily News reports.

Wisconsin may allow counties to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, The LaCrosse Tribune reports.

Reading List:

ObamaCare’s real promise, by Ezra Klein at The Washington Post.

The Affordable Care Act is not so affordable, says Jonathan Tobin at Commentary.

What you may have missed at HealthWatch:

Manufacturers pinched by healthcare costs.

Cheney says Obama deliberately lied about the healthcare law.

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

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Jonathan Easley/ jeasley@thehill.com / 202-407-8014 / @joneasley


Elise Viebeck/ eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523 / @eliseviebeck