DC staffers call PPACA plans a mess

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Several reports have signaled worry from consumers and employers alike about moving to PPACA plans. But a new report finds significant concern from those who work with the law’s architects.

A report from the Congressional Management Foundation finds congressional aides are very “unhappy” with the law and concerned about what it will do to their benefits.

Ninety percent of staffers surveyed by the Congressional Management Foundation said they’re concerned about the changes, while 86 percent said their workers are worried about cost and 82 percent are “worried about the ability to access local health care providers.”

One staffer called it a “horrible situation.”

“Health care is a mess and our District Office employees are not being allowed to keep their local plan. Everyone is unhappy. This is a very hard place in which to work.”

Under PPACA, members of Congress and most aides are required to enroll in the exchanges instead of staying on their federal health care plan.

Congressional staffers previously qualified for coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, but an amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to the law now prohibits lawmakers and their staffers from taking part in the program.

One surveyed aide noted, “The elimination of staff’s traditional health care has been a complete disaster. If you wanted a legislative branch run by K Street lobbyists and 25-year-old staffers, mission accomplished.”

Another said:  “I found out in September that I have breast cancer. I’m losing my health care coverage in the middle of my radiation treatment. Getting insured through the DC exchange is not helpful — my choices are very limited and costs are high. As a result, I’ve gone on my husband’s plan. My staff doesn’t necessarily have that option.”

The survey also found that only about 35 percent of staffers said they have a “good understanding” of the changes to their health care plan under Obamacare, according to the survey.

The worry is so evident among staffers that the Congressional Management Foundation warns the new health care benefit structure “could lead to a significant number of staff departures.” Almost 80 percent said the health care changes would contribute to staff exits.

Fifteen percent of congressional chiefs of staff and local directors responded to the survey, which took place between Nov. 18 and Dec. 6, Fifty-two percent of those who responded worked in a Democratic office, while 48 percent were from GOP offices.

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