Federal Eye: Congressional Health Benefits Could Soon Change

Senators debating health-care reform legislation have unanimously approved a proposal requiring members of Congress and their staffs to obtain health insurance through new state-based purchasing exchanges set up by the health-care reform bill under consideration. Lawmakers and their staffs could no longer buy health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program beginning in 2013 if the proposal survives the final health-care bill passed by Congress.

The Senate Finance Committee approved the amendment introduced by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) Tuesday night, just hours after the government announced an average 8.8 percent increase in the cost of health insurance provided through FEHBP.

It's a watered-down version of Grassley's original proposal, which would have effectively ended FEHBP by requiring all federal government employees to seek health care through their home state exchanges. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) modified the proposal, making the FEHBP an option for all federal employees, but Grassley changed it again and proposed the amendment was approved last night.

Currently all full- and part-time employees of the executive, judicial and legislative branches and the Postal Service are eligible to enroll in FEHBP.

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