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Forbes.com

 

IRS Employees Union Is 'Very Concerned' About Being Required To Enroll In Obamacare's Health Insurance Exchanges

July 26, 2013

By Avik Roy

In the private sector, many workers are concerned about losing their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, and being dumped into Obamacare’s subsidized insurance exchanges. Two weeks ago, representatives of three large labor unions fired off a harsh letter to Democratic leaders in Congress, complaining that Obamacare would “shatter…our hard-earned health benefits” and create “nightmare scenarios” for their members. Today, we learn that the National Treasury Employees Union—the union that includes employees of the Internal Revenue Service—is asking its members to write letters to their Congressmen, stating that they are “very concerned” about legislative efforts requiring IRS and Treasury employees to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges.

“I am a federal employee and one of your constituents,” the letter begins. “I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.), the representative referred to in the letter, is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the committee in the House that is responsible for tax legislation. (Obamacare’s insurance subsidies are technically tax credits.) In April, Camp introduced legislation to put all federal employees on the exchanges, in response to reports that members of Congress and their staff were seeking an exemption from the provision in Obamacare that requires them to enroll in the exchanges.

“If the ObamaCare exchanges are good enough for the hardworking Americans and small businesses the law claims to help, then they should be good enough for the president, vice president, Congress, and federal employees,” said Camp’s spokeswoman in a statement at the time.

There is one legitimate issue regarding members of Congress and their staff enrolling in the exchanges. Today, federal employees are offered subsidies, or vouchers, which they can use to shop for insurance on the popular federal employees’ exchange, called the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. Because Obamacare was drafted so hastily, it’s not clear whether the law allows similar subsidies to flow to federal employees on the Obamacare exchanges.

We’re still awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on that front. For inexplicable reasons, OPM has not clarified whether or not the government will be allowed to funnel subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges.

Nonetheless, it would be a very good thing for some federal employees to eat their own cooking, especially those who work for Congress, the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services. They’re the ones who are writing the Obamacare regulations; they’re the ones who, in many cases, wrote the law itself. The IRS enforces Obamacare’s individual mandate and eligibility for the exchange subsidies, among other provisions.

They should be required to enroll in the same Obamacare exchanges that tens of millions of private citizens will have to. They should have to experience the same premium increases and limited flexibility that other Americans will endure there. Maybe then, we’ll start to build a constituency for market-based reform.

Original Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/07/26/irs-employees-union-is-very-concerned-about-being-required-to-enroll-in-obamacares-health-insurance-exchanges/

 

 
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