Democratic candidates in several House races are taking advantage of a "little-noticed" provision in the Affordable Care Act -- which requires all congressional members to obtain health coverage through the health insurance exchanges -- against their GOP opponents who voted to repeal the law, the New York Times reports.
Background on ACA Provision
The provision -- proposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) -- states that the only health insurance plans that will be available to members of Congress are plans created under the ACA or offered through the exchanges, which will be operational in all states beginning in 2014. When he proposed the directive, Grassley said, "Congress should live under the same laws it passes for the rest of the country," an idea that many Democrats and Republicans previously supported.
Presently, active and retired lawmakers are eligible for coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which provides coverage for eight million federal employees, retirees and dependents.
Democrats Take Aim at GOP Challengers' Votes
Some Democratic House candidates are running television advertisements suggesting that their Republican opponents' votes and their party's efforts to repeal the ACA are an attempt to ensure that they would have "taxpayer-funded health care for life." The Democrats argue that repealing the law would restore their eligibility for coverage in the FEHBP.
According to the Times, the accuracy of the commercial "is open to question" because the "facts are more complicated than the ads" themselves. The ACA does not specify whether the government's share of the premiums under FEHBP for retirees will be extended to retired congressional members who obtain coverage through the health insurance exchanges.
The Democrats insist their campaign ads are accurate, while their GOP challengers argue that the criticism is unfounded and the effect of the ACA provision for retired lawmakers is being misrepresented (Pear, New York Times, 10/18).