According to a new survey by the Congressional Management Foundation, Capitol Hill staffers are pretty worried about Obamacare. Nearly 4 in 10 senior staffers plan to look for new jobs in the next year in light of the recent changes to their health care. And 9 in 10 managers reported that their staffs are "worried about possible changes in health benefits." CMF surveyed 163 senior staffers (about 15 percent of potential respondents) including House and Senate chiefs of staff, House district directors and Senate state directors.
One senior staffer responded to the survey,
The elimination of staff's traditional health care has been a complete disaster. If you wanted a legislative branch run by K Street lobbyists and 25 year-old staffers, Mission Accomplished.
The reason Hill staffers are worried about their health care is because unlike other full-time workers in the country, they were forced to switch from employer insurance to Obamacare for 2014. This is because of an amendment Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley proposed in 2010, which was originally meant to troll Democrats but ended up passing with bipartisan support. The amendment states that members of Congress and their staffs will enroll in Obamacare so that Congress has a stake in the efficacy of the law.
The Office of Personnel Management ruled that staffers can still receive employer contributions to their health care, but some Republicans want to take that away. Sen. David Vitter floated an amendment to strip staffers and lawmakers of employer contributions, and Sen. Ron Johnson is currently suing the OPM to get rid of the subsidies. Sen. Ted Cruz proposed expanding Vitter's amendment to include all D.C. government workers, like teachers and police officers.
Staffers, it seems, don't enjoy being used as political pawns when their health care and livelihoods are at stake. So a lot of them are worried, and some want to quit altogether. In 2011, 30 percent of senior staffers were looking for new jobs. Now, 38 percent want to leave. And 79 percent of senior staffers reported that if other staff members leave, it's likely because of changes to health care benefits.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.