The public exchange that serves members of Congress and their aides wants the flexibility to treat Congress as if it were generous small employer rather than just another cheap one.
Mila Kofman, executive director of the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority, says her understanding is that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to treat Congress as if it had failed to give much support to its health plan, or had failed to get many employees to participate.
By putting Congress in the “employer with a bad health plan” category, CMS would require the district’s DC Health Link exchange to start 2015 coverage open enrollment for members of Congress and their aides on Nov. 15, rather than Oct. 1, Kofman says.
“We strongly oppose this proposed change,” Kofman writes in a comment on the CMS draft regulations that describe the open enrollment calendar proposal.
The congressional health plan enrollment proposal would cause big headaches both for congressional employee benefits programs and for the DC Health Link staff, Kofman says.
Drafters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act tried to give members of Congress a taste of their own medicine by requiring them to get their coverage through the exchange system, rather than through the Federal Employees’ Health Benefit program.
Officials at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management decided members of Congress and their aides should get their exchange coverage through the DC Health Link Small Business Health Options Program division, even though PPACA bars larger employers from the public exchanges until at least 2017.