Skip to main content

Some Reid staffers exempt from Obamacare exchanges

By Chris Frates, CNN Investigative Correspondent
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Other congressional leaders have instructed their staffs to enroll
  • In September, Reid said, "We are going to be part of exchanges"
  • Law lets lawmakers decide if committee and leadership staffers keep federal employee insurance

Washington (CNN) -- Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of Obamacare's architects and staunchest supporters, is also the only top congressional leader to exempt some of his staff from having to buy insurance through the law's new exchanges.

Reid is the exception among the other top congressional leaders. GOP House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have all directed their staffs to join the exchange, their aides said.

After website woes, President pushes benefits of Obamacare

In the charged atmosphere surrounding Obamacare, Reid's decision only gives Republicans more ammo to attack Democrats already suffering politically from the law's botched rollout.

In September, Reid told reporters, "Let's stop these really juvenile political games -- the one dealing with health care for senators and House members and our staff. We are going to be part of exchanges, that's what the law says and we'll be part of that."

What did W.H. know before the launch?
Reselling the Affordable Care Act
Bill Clinton on Obamacare Progress

With website deadline met, Obamacare scrutiny increases

That's true. Reid and his personal staff will buy insurance through the exchange.

But it's also true that the law lets lawmakers decide if their committee and leadership staffers hold on to their federal employee insurance plans, an option Reid has exercised.

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson emphasized, "We are just following the law."

Insurers still reporting errors on Obamacare applications

But Republicans are already taking aim.

"I'm sure that regular Americans who just lost their insurance will feel comforted to know that Senator Reid's staff gets to keep their government plan," a senior GOP Senate aide said.

Former Reid staffer Jim Manley defended his old boss, arguing that "the only people hypocritical here are Republicans, who made this an issue in the first place."

And all four House and Senate leaders are required to relinquish their federal employee insurance plans next year and are choosing to enroll in the exchanges.

CNN's Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
On Tuesday, two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on a subject that's important to millions of people: the availability of subsidies to help purchase coverage under the health-care law.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1406 GMT (2206 HKT)
It was a tale of two rulings -- the best of times and the worst of times for Obamacare in the federal appeals courts.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1000 GMT (1800 HKT)
President Barack Obama's poll numbers are nothing to brag about, but there's little evidence he has suffered so far this year a "Katrina moment" that caused his predecessor's numbers to plummet.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1000 GMT (1800 HKT)
More than half the public says Obamacare has helped either their families or others across the country, although less than one in five Americans say they have personally benefited from the health care law, according to a new national poll.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
House Republicans are going forward with plans to sue President Barack Obama and will base their legal case on the sweeping health care law he championed and they despise.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 2013 GMT (0413 HKT)
They tried in Congress, at the ballot box and in the Supreme Court, but Republicans have been unable to stop Obamacare.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
The Supreme Court's decision was "sweeping," a "huge blow to the Obama administration," and a "shot in the arm for the evangelical movement," analysts said.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The ruling gives certain companies a right to raise religious objections to providing some types of birth control insurance to their employees leaves a number of important questions in its wake.
October 29, 2013 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Nationally, consumers are learning a number of well-known hospitals won't accept insurance under Obamacare.
December 23, 2013 -- Updated 1816 GMT (0216 HKT)
Open enrollment started October 1. Here's a step-by-step guide to navigating the insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges.
October 19, 2013 -- Updated 0837 GMT (1637 HKT)
Obamacare has survived a Supreme Court appeal, a government shutdown and ongoing challenges by opposing politicians. With few exceptions, every American must have health insurance by March 31 or pay a penalty fee.
September 26, 2013 -- Updated 1444 GMT (2244 HKT)
If you don't know what all those health insurance buzz-words like "co-pay" and "premium" mean, you're not alone.
October 2, 2013 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)
Lauren Zanardelli and Graham Foster are the kind of customers the government needs to make Obamacare work.
It's a popular assertion, but is it true? The CNN Politics team hunts down the facts.
Some may offer help navigating the new health insurance marketplace for a fee. Others will warn that you will need a new Medicare card.
September 30, 2013 -- Updated 1657 GMT (0057 HKT)
Who's in, who's out... and what about the costs? CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down Obamacare.
Consumers can avoid the exchanges by buying plans directly from insurers or through brokers. But should they?
Here's the first look at insurance premiums on 36 exchanges run by the federal government.
September 25, 2013 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
If we want to be realistic about health care reform, we have to acknowledge that everything comes with a tradeoff, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll says.
Check out our page with all things you need to know about Obamacare and how it will affect you.
ADVERTISEMENT