The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains a provision that only allows the government to grant members of Congress and their staff insurance plans that are offered by an exchange or outlined in the ACA. The provision is known as the Grassley Amendment, and the theory behind it is best described as, “what is good for the goose is good for the gander;” if citizens must purchase insurance at mandated, unsubsidized premiums, then so shall their federal representatives. Prior to the enactment of the ACA and the Grassley Amendment, federal employees received medical insurance under the Federal Employee Benefits Program (FEPB). Under the FEPB the government subsidized up to 75% of the employees’ premiums.
Lawmakers and aides are considering “retiring early or just quitting” in response to the increase in their premiums, leading to what some are calling a potential “brain drain” in the federal government. The ACA dictates that insurance premiums can cost no more than 9.5% of an employee’s income, and even though aides earn more than the average retail worker or restaurant employee, aides that makes between $35,000 and $170,000 will feel the increase in their premium “acutely,” according to some reports.