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Congress starts using an exchange

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires members of Congress and some of their staff members to get health coverage through the new PPACA exchange system.

Despite Republican opposition to PPACA, Republican lawmakers and their staffers have been showing up at exchange plan enrollment meetings, according to officials at the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has picked the Small Business Health Options Program at the district’s DC Health Link exchange to help Congress use the exchange system.

Hannah Turner, an exchange staffer, talked about the congressional SHOP plan at a recent exchange authority board meeting.

Board members asked whether the controversies surrounding PPACA had affected congressional exchange enrollment meetings.

“We’ve been having successful conversations with people on both sides of the aisle,” Turner said.

At a House enrollment meeting earlier this month, for example, about 500 congressional staffers attended in person, and many other staffers watched the live enrollment meeting Webcast or a recording of the webcast, Turner said.

Ninety-nine percent of the questions have had to do with how the exchange and the plans will work, not politics, Turner said.

Exchange staffers declined to give congressional enrollment numbers, saying that information is confidential. 

The exchange authority has posted a copy of the congressional exchange enrollment meeting flier on its website.

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