CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said this week that she no longer will accept contributions from the federal government for her health insurance and that she will introduce legislation that would prevent the federal government from contributing to the health insurance of members of Congress.
The proposed legislation is part of Capito's ongoing battle against the federal Affordable Care Act. Capito, along with other House Republicans, has voted 40 times to repeal the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
The ACA passed in 2009 with an amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that requires members of Congress and their staffs to purchase health plans through the insurance exchanges created by the law.
Currently, most members of Congress, their staffs and other federal employees receive health plans through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the largest employer-sponsored health program in the country.
Under the program, as with the vast majority of employer-sponsored health plans, the employer pays the bulk of an employee's premium, while the employee picks up the remainder. Plans vary, but the federal government generally pays about 75 percent of the cost of premiums for federal employees. That level would not change under the ACA.
Last week, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management issued a ruling that members of Congress and their staffs will continue to receive the same premium support from the federal government that they currently get. They will be able to use that support to help purchase insurance on the exchanges but will not be eligible for any tax credits available to people with lower incomes to purchase insurance on the exchanges.
"The proposed rule clarifies that the participants will continue to have an employer contribution toward their health insurance premiums," the OPM said in a news release. "The amount of the employer contribution toward their exchange premiums is no more than would otherwise be made toward coverage under the FEHB Program."
Capito's legislation, which is not yet available because it has not been introduced, appears to apply only to members of Congress, not their staffs.