Retirement an ObamaCare bailout for Beltway politicians?

posted at 9:21 am on March 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

For most Americans, there is no escape from ObamaCare. One subset of Americans, however, do have an escape hatch — and surprise, surprise, it’s the same subset of Americans who forced ObamaCare onto everyone else. Officeholders on Capitol Hill and their staffs can opt back into the previous Congressional health-care system by retiring:

This year, members of Congress and thousands of their staffers are finally signing up for health insurance provided by an ObamaCare exchange, fulfilling their commitment to live under the same system that millions of other Americans will use.

But unlike those millions of Americans, members and staff have a way to opt out of ObamaCare — retirement.

Under a rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) late last year, members and staff who retire will be able to revert back to health coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). That’s the same coverage that thousands of other federal workers can use when they retire.

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The FEHBP lets government retirees choose from a range of options, including health savings accounts, PPOs or HMOs. And none of it has anything to do with ObamaCare.

OPM had not included a retirement escape clause in its August draft of the rule on congressional coverage. But this flexibility was added in its October 2 final rule, after “numerous commenters” called on OPM to reconsider.

The kicker? OPM decided that forcing these retirees to stay in ObamaCare would give them more options than other retirees, and that just wouldn’t be fair. At the same time, though, OPM didn’t seem to take fairness into great consideration on their legal argument. While the law mandates that members of Congress and their staffers get treated like all other Americans, OPM reasoned, the law never stated that they had to get the same treatment once they retired from those positions.

Let’s also remember that OPM’s previous ruling allowed Capitol Hill to eat its cake and have it, too. They ruled that officials and staffers could continue receiving FEHBP subsidies even after they got shifted to ObamaCare. OPM made this change to its rules after members of Congress complained that their own law would result in a “brain drain” from federal government. (Fill in your joke here.) That gives Congress the best of all worlds — a nominal adherence to the law they forced on everyone else, plus a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

That’s not the only place where rules keep changing to benefit the people who pushed ObamaCare through over the objections of most Americans. HHS has made its own series of unilateral changes, and Jeryl Bier thinks another may be coming. The official HHS ObamaCare website notes that the deadline for coverage enrollment in terms of IRS enforcement of the individual mandate is March 31st, but the language is getting softer on how one can get around it:

An email inquiry to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday, February 26, seeking clarification elicited the following response on Thursday, February 27, from the agency’s press office (emphasis added):

Marketplace plans will not be available until the following enrollment period, unless the person has a qualifying life event. For more information, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/how-can-i-get-coverage-outside-of-open-enrollment/.

Some insurers off the Marketplace may choose to allow individuals to enroll in a plan at any time provided they comply with new regulations such as not discriminating based a pre-existing condition or current health status. The insurer must also make sure that the plan is available for anyone who may want to purchase it.

Following the email inquiry, the informational page at Healthcare.gov was updated on February 27, now reading (emphasis added): “Outside open enrollment, you can enroll in Marketplace insurance only if you have certain life events that give you a special enrollment period.” …

Obviously it would be in the government’s interest for the public to assume that no coverage, either inside or outside the Marketplace, may be purchased between April 1 and November 15 unless there is a qualifying “life event.”  But as the recent clarification from CMS spells out, the private insurance market (as opposed to “Marketplace”) will remain an option for those who for one reason or another resist Obamacare’s deadline.

Maybe they can just retire from Congress.


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So average citizens who retire can partake of this option too, right, because I’d hate to think that the self-important leftist trash who forced this disaster on us would give themselves a benefit that we don’t get.

Bishop on March 3, 2014 at 9:22 AM

The Ruling Class. Take that, peasant!

/sarc

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Rules for thee…ah fukk it.

HumpBot Salvation on March 3, 2014 at 9:25 AM

If they want to bail, it should be from a leaky boat in the middle of the ocean.

Marxism is for dummies on March 3, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Do. Not. Comply.

thunderhorse on March 3, 2014 at 9:29 AM

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:25 AM

That’s accurate, no sarc tag necessary.

dogsoldier on March 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Where would we be without such selfless public servants?

antipc on March 3, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Where would we be without such selfless public servants?

antipc on March 3, 2014 at 9:32 AM

16 Trillion less in debt?

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:33 AM

A President with a spine would, in Jan 2017, reverse all these EOs and bureaucratic rules on a massive scale. A President with a real spine would do it retroactively by garnishing the wages and having the IRS recover back taxes from those businesses and individuals who got illegal waivers from him. I don’t see it happening.

Fenris on March 3, 2014 at 9:33 AM

These congress critters should be drug into the street and dealt with appropriately. It is time for an American Spring…

Doomsday on March 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Our biggest problem is the MSM. They are providing the Mail Line of Resistance by distortion, lies, and omissions. We should be raising more hell directly at them. By the way, is Putin’s dog named Sick’em or Bo?

philoise65 on March 3, 2014 at 9:36 AM

A President with a spine would, in Jan 2017, reverse all these EOs and bureaucratic rules on a massive scale. A President with a real spine would do it retroactively by garnishing the wages and having the IRS recover back taxes from those businesses and individuals who got illegal waivers from him. I don’t see it happening.

Fenris on March 3, 2014 at 9:33 AM

I don’t either. Unfortunately. The next Administration should start with JAILING more than half of those from THIS administration, starting with Eric Witholder himself. But they won’t, if we get a Republican whoever it is will repeat the mistake Bush made in not prosecuting the Clinton crimes.

Obama’s crimes in office make Clinton look like a jaywalker.

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Maybe they can just retire from Congress.

Tweak

Maybe they can just retire Congress.

Bmore on March 3, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Maybe they can just retire from Congress.

Tweak

Maybe they can just retire Congress.

Bmore on March 3, 2014 at 9:37 AM

What do we really need Congress for now anyway? Obama is making, repealing, and altering laws at will, and they won’t even stand up for themselves.

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:38 AM

After destroying a nation, I would want to retire too.
(Destroying is hard.)

Tsar of Earth on March 3, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Unstinkingbelievable

Most companies have an open enrollment period…. if you don’t fix it then tough tiddlywinks

cmsinaz on March 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Obama’s crimes in office make Clinton look like a jaywalker.

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Obama makes Nixon look like a jaywalker too, but Nixon’s mistake was being a Republican.

Fenris on March 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM

If they want to bail, it should be from a leaky boat in the middle of the ocean.

Marxism is for dummies on March 3, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Oh such a beautiful visual for such a dreary Monday morning.

Tsar of Earth on March 3, 2014 at 9:44 AM

I “Retired” from the Medical Device Industry about a year ago / canned after 25 years of startup device launch. Device Companies are hemorraging employees as are Pharma Companies due to VC drying up…..No one in their right mind is going to invest in Medical Device because the industry is in chaos and are clueless about any investment return……
So…….no investment capital, no innovation, employees laid off……the best healthcare the world has ever seen/created……..DEAD!
Healthcare will end up having two pathways, one for Obamacare people who will end up having to go to big box hospitals and receive commodity treatment and the other will be privatized – where patients will be able to afford premium care and receive the best care and top notch devices and implants by paying cash or paying a large percentage of the bill in cash….where Drs and private facilities compete for patients through marketing their skills and efficencies.
Obama single handidly killed the US Healthcare, putting tens of thousands of people out of work and killing innovation / sometimes life saving technology just so a very limited number of “uninsured” ( who actually could receive medical care ) could have Insurance.
Obama does not understand return, tradeoffs or risk and it is a shame because he is “…fundementally Changing America…” just like he said he would, unfortunately for the worse as the bottom will be dropping out of the economy soon.
I need a job, so if anyone is listening…..Help!

Privatize It on March 3, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Isn’t there a “Equal Protection” violation here?

What am I saying, they are our betters, nevermind.

D-fusit on March 3, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Just when I thought my adoration of our benevolent overlords couldn’t get any stronger, they provide us with another example such selflessness and generosity! Imagine, giving up their own Obamacare just so there would be that much more for the rest of us!

Racistanyway on March 3, 2014 at 9:51 AM

One rule for them another for us plebes.

neyney on March 3, 2014 at 9:51 AM

After destroying a nation, I would want to retire too.
(Destroying is hard.)

Tsar of Earth on March 3, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Destroying is easy actually. Look at how easily Obama has destroyed more than HALF A CENTURY of American achievement? He has:

1. Ended our space program
2. Built up more debt in 5 years than was built up in 50 years
3. Reduced our military to pre-World War II levels
4. Abandoned allies we had stuck by for more than 50 years

And I could go on.

Obama has achieved all that, and he RARELY “works” 4 hours in a day. If a lazy ass sloth like Obama could achieve that level of destruction, we actually should be thanking God the man has no work ethic at all.

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Isn’t there a “Equal Protection” violation here?

What am I saying, they are our betters, nevermind.

D-fusit on March 3, 2014 at 9:50 AM

All the animals on the farm are equal, but some are more equal than others.

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Obama would just say that he’s being ‘flexible’. The ‘law of the land’ is what he says it is at any particular moment in time.

GarandFan on March 3, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Political oligarchs. He who make the rules, rules the game. The beat just goes on…and on…and on…

vnvet on March 3, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Maybe they can just retire Congress.

Bmore on March 3, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Yeah, well BO has effectively already accomplished that – they’re just “retired in place”.

climbnjump on March 3, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Can Mitch McConnell really not find 51 Senators who are uncomfortable with the President and the bureaucracy rewriting legislation?

If NO, then the legal framework that the U.S. relies on is inoperative, and all laws are subject to rewrite by any executive branch agency.

If YES, a serious challenge to Harry Reid can be mounted. A number of Democratic Senators have made noises about sponsoring legislation to “fix” Obamacare, but Harry Reid has allowed no legislation touching on Obamacare to be considered.

Obamacare of, by, & for the Democratic Party IS the issue for the 2014 mid-terms. I’m still looking for the Republicans as a party to go on offense.

pilsener on March 3, 2014 at 10:18 AM

some congress critters need a good flensing.

dmacleo on March 3, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Obama has achieved all that, and he RARELY “works” 4 hours in a day. If a lazy ass sloth like Obama could achieve that level of destruction, we actually should be thanking God the man has no work ethic at all.

ConstantineXI on March 3, 2014 at 9:52 AM

I see Obama more as an asleep-at-the-switch gatekeeper (sorry, mixed methaphor).

All of the horsepower-of-destruction was already in place with the progressives. (And you have to admit that they do work hard at it…)

He just let the horsepower escape by his non-action actions. And letting something escape, I guess, is easy.

Tsar of Earth on March 3, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Think about it…… If this is all it will take to get rid of a bunch of these critters, it is cheaper than keeping them at a trillion plus per year CR’s.

No Time Clock on March 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Are we hapless serfs really expected to believe that so many “public servants” arbitrarily decided to end their “career” of taking our hard-earned money for their own personal, self-aggrandizement projects before/by/come the 2014 elections?

Jeddite on March 3, 2014 at 11:04 AM

The Beatings will continue until moral improves

Suckers!!!!!!

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 3, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Any incentive to get these buttheads to retire is good!

Vince on March 3, 2014 at 11:23 AM

P O S !

KOOLAID2 on March 3, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Maybe they can just retire Congress.

Bmore on March 3, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Would that be a ‘Blade Runner’ sort of retirement?

trigon on March 3, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Ok, challenged with a broken, dysfunctional, and extremely deficit-fueled non-budget, the government seeks to come up with ways to reduce spending.

So Paul Ryan’s (a Republican ‘Conservative’) idea is to BETRAY the promise made to the men and women and their families who have sacrificed economically, physically, and emotionally…who havwe gone off to war – again and again and again without hestitation or question…who have come home with damaged minds and bodies… and cut their pensions and monetary support for programs to support their healing and rehabilitation?

He and the other politicians in Washington…who have repeatedly voted themselves pay increases, who voted to make those raises automatic so they would never again face criticism from their contituents for having voted themselves another pay increase, who have given themselves countless perks, bonuses, and monetary bonuses and perks…who, although demanded military personnel serve their nations for a total of 20 years – have made it so that THEY can serve as little as 1 term, 4 years, and receive extremely lucrative pensions for the rest of their lives.

And it never occured to any of them that possibly modifying the UNBELIEVABLY INSANE retirement plan / packages / perks they have given themselves would / should be part of any plan to reduce the spending / the deficit?! This same government is telling Unions THEY can’t have their ‘Cadillac Retirment Plans’ while they – the politicians – leave office with ‘ROLLS ROYCE’ retirement plans.

To h@ll with ‘All for one and one for all’ or ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’. For POLITICIANS, and I mean that word in every negative conotation, like Pelosi, Reid, BOEHENER, AND RYAN, it has become, “How hard, how long, and how bad can I $cr@w the American people for MY OWN personal and party benefit?!” At times, rare times, there use to be a blurring of the lines in the difference between Democrats and Republicans. NOW, those lines have been all but eliminated.

And as far as the Democrats go, the only politicians who signed Obamacare into law, they should have their entire retirement packages (monetary, benefits, health care, etc)REVOKED! They all have lucrative law practices & other plans – they are ALL millionaires…The way they BETRAYED & $CREWED their Constituents & the American people, we don’t owe them ANYTHING!

easyt65 on March 3, 2014 at 1:10 PM

SOLUTION TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT POLITICIANS:

Any way STATES can pass legislation that declares any representative elected to represent that state in Washington D.C., at the Federal Level, must assign an agreement as part of their election, to make it official. That agreement should declare that any representative elected will ONLY accept the pay and benefits the STATE will pay them to do the job in Washington. The STATE will dictate the PAY, the Health Care the STATE will provide, and the BENEFITS – like RETIREMENT benefits – state representatives will receive while doing their jobs as that state’s representative. Furhtermore, if any rep is caught in violation of this – accepting any Federal Pay, perks, special health care, the state can tax them at 100% and/or re-call them!

Yeah, I know this is a pipe dream, but it would be awesome. There is no way politicians will cut their own pay, agree to participate in Obamacare the way they have FORCED all of us to, and will re-vamp their insane retirement package….but all of that is what needs to happen.

Can anyone tell me any other job in the U.S. where employees can set their own salaries, give themselves pay raises any time they want, determine how big that pay raise may be, how much time they can have for vacation time, set their own hours, have a massive spending account, set themselves above laws, and build their own retirement accounts and amount of time they actaually need to work before they can retire….?! And like a mugging victim tied to a chair watching the mugger plunder through our wallet / purse, these CRIMINALS are pludering our tax dollars to pay for all of this without us being able to do 1 d@mn thing about it!

easyt65 on March 3, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Presumably the next Republican president can unilaterally issue waivers to everyone else to escape Obamacare, while revoking the escape from Obamacare for everyone who voted for it, effectively making Obamacare apply only to the people who voted for it.

I mean, since the president no longer needs to worry about the text of any laws…..

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 3, 2014 at 1:28 PM

There really are two Americas but not the ones Obama talks about. The frustrating thing for me is that, absent Devine intervention, we’ve come to a point where I really can’t see us besting the oligarchs.

frank on March 3, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Obama single handidly killed the US Healthcare

Privatize It on March 3, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Actually, he’s had quite a bit of help.

bofh on March 3, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Do they get to do insider trading when they retire too?

Jackson on March 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Jackson on March 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

This is what I am talking about regarding elevating themselves above the law. When several politicians were busted for Insider Trading, their response was, “Oh, WE DIDN’T KNOW THAT APPLIED TO US.” REALLY?! They did not know that all the lwas they pass actually apply to them? They then passed a new piece of legislation (as if one was required) saying NOW this applies to congress as well — they did this to appease Americans so they would not demand these politicians went to JAIL for their crimes, remembering the old saying ‘Ignorance is no excuse for the law’.

this paved the way for them to say the next time one of their own gets busted for ANYTHING, “We didn’t know THAT law applied to us, too” and do the same thing. Ridicuous.

If anyone paid attention, after this story died down 2 weeks later the Congress/Senate quietly passed another piece of legislation that stated neither Congressmen or Senators have to release any information on their own personal financial dealings. Bsically they just made it impossible to prove if they are engaging in Insider Trading in the future and went right back to doing it!

easyt65 on March 3, 2014 at 2:22 PM

So they get to keep their plan, pension, lofty social status, and lobbyist jobs. This is the equivalent of a lib going to heaven.

Kissmygrits on March 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM