Are Washington lawmakers covered by the health care bill they just passed?
Rep. Michele Bachmann voted against the bill and has taken some heat for it from the Democratically aligned group Americans United for Change. They're claiming she's denying Minnesotans the same kind of coverage she gets as member of Congress.
To the contrary, she said she's lost her old health care plan, which she said wasn't supposed to happen under Obamacare.
Is that true?
No, not really. All government employees, including members of Congress, can opt into the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which Bachmann has. But nothing about the federal plan will change, except that it will be purchased through an exchange.
To clarify, Bachmann spokesman Dave Dziok said the Stillwater Republican wasn't trying to imply that she's not covered, but rather pointing out that she isn't able to keep her plan exactly the way that it was. "She would have to choose a plan through a different [way]," Dziok said. "Essentially it will be a federal health plan, but not the exact same one that she has right now."
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Jim Oberstar has fielded complaints from those who've heard Congress is exempt from the new plan.
In fact, the law explicitly states that the only health plans the federal government can offer to Congress members and their office staffs are plans "created under this Act," or "offered through an Exchange established under this Act." Oberstar's spokester John Schadl told Hot Dish that his office has been getting "dozens of calls" on the issue and even submitted a letter to the Duluth News Tribune to put the rumor to rest.
For those feeling extra-wonky, check the language from the bill here.
Hayley Tsukayama is an intern in the Star Tribune's Washington bureau.