An exclusive report from POLITICO published yesterday reveals that despite Rep. John Boehner’s vocal opposition to a “so-called exemption” for lawmakers and staff in the Affordable Care Act, he actually worked behind the scenes with Democratic leaders in Congress to save the much-maligned subsidies.
The news site obtained documents and e-mails, most likely leaked from the Democratic side, in which Speaker Boehner’s staff even worked to set a meeting with the President about the issue, and then claimed the meeting was about “immigration,” which at the time was being dealt with in a bill before Congress.
The issue is whether or not lawmakers and staff will continue to receive their employer contribution towards their healthcare from the federal government, which POLITICO estimated are between $5000 to $12,000 annually. However the Office of Personnel Management or OPM ruled that once lawmakers and their staff enroll in the healthcare exchanges they were no longer eligible for those subsidies.
After an “uproar” from Congress, OPM then reversed their decision in early August saying the subsidies would continue. However, from February to July, the staffs of both Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid worked closely to figure out a fix for the problem before the White House got involved.
Speaker Boehner’s aides are quoted as saying there was never any intention to pass a bill to fix the problem, and that his intention has always been to “repeal Obamacare.” However, those who were in the meetings say that Speaker Boehner asked if there was any way to “slip it in” a bill without anyone noticing, and that he used to do things like that in the State Legislature “all the time.”
On Monday night, Speaker Boehner finally attached language banning the subsidies to one of his many bills rejected by the Senate.