ObamaCare glitch fixed for lawmakers, staff

An ObamaCare glitch that troubled Capitol Hill lawmakers and staff as they prepare to enter the new insurance exchanges will be solved next week, according to a White House official.

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The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is preparing to issue guidance allowing the federal government to contribute to Capitol Hill employees' premiums in the marketplaces.

The news, confirmed early Friday, comes after President Obama told lawmakers that he was personally involved in ensuring a fix occurred before Jan. 1, when exchange coverage kicks in. 

Next week's regulation will end months of anxiety about a "brain drain" from Capitol Hill over healthcare costs. 

Under ObamaCare, lawmakers and staff are required to purchase health coverage in the new insurance marketplaces. 

That requirement, the brainchild of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), was intended to ensure parity between Congress and constituents who will be purchasing coverage through ObamaCare.

The problem was that the law provided no clear way for the federal government to make a traditional employer contribution to Capitol Hill employees' premiums.

The OPM guidance will address the confusion and clarify that the contributions can take place. 

Lawmakers and staff will not be eligible for tax subsidies to help them purchase coverage. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a statement late Thursday emphasizing that "members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in health marketplaces as the Affordable Care Act requires."

At a press conference Friday, she conceded that the uncertainty surrounding the premiums had weighed heavily on the minds of congressional staffers, but the issue is now resolved.

"Staff did tell me that there would be a problem," she said. "The main target of that piece of the legislation was the members of Congress, and the collateral damage was to staff. Now that doubt has been removed."

Pelosi characterized Capitol Hill staff as "a tremendous intellectual resource." 

"[They are] people who could, shall we say, be better compensated financially outside [of Congress]," she said, but "happily they enjoy the psychic rewards of public service, at least for awhile."

—Mike Lillis contributed.

—This post was updated with Pelosi's comments on Friday.