Ask Laz: Don’t worry: Obamacare repeal won’t hurt Congress’ own health coverage


As President Trump and Republican members of Congress charge full speed ahead with repealing and replacing Obamacare, Ira asks: “What is the current state of congressional reps’ coverage?”

Another way of phrasing that might be: Aren’t these guys shooting themselves in the foot?

Members of Congress are free to buy any health insurance they choose, or to be covered through a spouse’s employer. But if they want federal subsidies to help pay the cost of coverage, they’re required under the Affordable Care Act to purchase insurance through the Washington exchange set up by the law.

If they use Obamacare, they’re eligible for an “employer contribution” — thanks, taxpayers! — of up to 75% of the cost of their plan’s premiums.


But that’s not all.

According to a report last month from the Congressional Research Service, lawmakers “are eligible to receive limited services from the Office of the Attending Physician in the U.S. Capitol for an annual fee.”

Basically, that’s an in-house clinic available to members of Congress for an extra $600 or so a year. It’s staffed by Navy doctors, nurses, technicians and a pharmacist. All treatment, including the services of specialists, is covered by that dirt-cheap annual fee.

If more advanced treatment is required, Congress members have access to military facilities.

“There is no charge for outpatient care if it is provided in the National Capital Region,” the report says. Inpatient care is at rates set by the Department of Defense, which almost certainly are lower than what a private hospital would charge.

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, one might think members of Congress would be giving all this up. But that’s probably not the case.

What likely would happen is that lawmakers’ healthcare would go back to how it was before Obamacare was passed, when insurance was provided through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan.


If so, up to 75% of premiums would still be subsidized by taxpayers, there would be no exclusions for preexisting conditions, and all those extra perks, such as the special clinic and access to military hospitals, would remain.

The bottom line, Ira, is that members of Congress currently get a really sweet deal on healthcare. If Obamacare is repealed and replaced with something else, they’ll likely still get a really sweet deal.

Got a question? Email me at And follow me on Twitter @Davidlaz.


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