Two weeks ago, the House Federal Workforce Subcommittee held its FEHBP oversight hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darryl Issa (R CA — the big chairman) and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton asked OPM Assistant Director Jonathan Foley for his insights on an upcoming change of bipartisan interest — the Affordable Care Act requires members of Congress and their personal staff members (somewhere around 10,000 people) to leave the FEHBP in favor of exchange coverage. Mr. Foley declined because OPM is developing regulations to implement the change. Chairman Issa was not pleased and said he would take the discussion off line as they say.
Today there was a barrage of news articles about this impending change. The Politico reported this morning that Congress secretly was preparing to exempt itself for the exchanges (/ stay in the FEHBP??0. Ezra Klein from the Washington Post rather indignantly disagreed with Politico. By this evening the Politico was backing off on its morning report, but Congress is planning on clarifying the law, which makes sense. The Hill and the Washington Examiner also weighed in.
Congress does need to legislate for the purpose of creating a government contribution for the exchange coverage and explain how this change impacts eligibility for retiree coverage under the FEHBP. OPM can draw the regulatory line between those up on Capitol Hill who leave the FEHBP and those who don’t.