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WASHINGTON — Rep. Adam Smith is married, has a 9-year-old babe and a 6-year-old son, and pays $356 a ages for bloom affliction allowance with a little dental and no vision.



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Despite what bourgeois bloggers circuit about bloom affliction advantage for associates of Congress actuality free, it’s not.

The 535 associates of Congress are acceptable for the aforementioned bloom allowance programs as 8 actor added federal employees, retirees and dependants, including about 100,000 in Washington state. The affairs aren’t all so altered from those offered to the about 60 percent of Americans who acquire employer-based insured.

“There is annihilation altered about my coverage,” said Smith, D-Wash. “I am active by a big company, aloof like those alive for Boeing, Starbucks, Costco or Milgard.”



Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., is additionally on the ancestors plan.

Larsen is married, has two sons, 10 and 13, and pays $365.59 a ages for his insurance, with a $600 anniversary deductible and a $20 co-pay per visit.

“I didn’t run for this job because of the bloom affliction plan,” Larsen said. “I admit the allowances I acquire as a federal agent ability be bigger than my capacity or not as good. But I appetite them to acquire the aforementioned choices.”

Smith and Larsen say a cardinal of their capacity acquire misconceptions about bloom affliction for associates of Congress, assertive they acquire a free, government-run-forever plan. They and added assembly say the affair comes up at boondocks anteroom meetings, belletrist to the editor and added accidental conversations. Some capacity additionally acquire assembly don’t pay Social Security. They do.

“There is no appropriate or chargeless bloom allowance plan for associates of Congress,” said Charlie Keller, a agent for Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who pays $356 a ages for his bloom care. “Members of Congress acquire the advantage of accommodating in and advantageous for the exact aforementioned bloom allowance affairs offered to every federal employee.”

But that’s not to say lawmakers, who accomplish $174,000 a year, don’t acquire a few allowances back it comes to bloom affliction and insurance.

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Like added federal employees, they acquire dozens of affairs to acquire from, involving assorted levels of affliction and costing assorted amounts. The Congressional Research Service estimates federal advisers acquire about 300 altered options. About three-fourths of all workers in the clandestine area acquire no best in medical insurance, either because their companies don’t action advantage or action alone one plan.

For an added $500 a year, assembly can acquire bloom casework from emergency affliction to X-rays and checkups at the Office of the Attending Physician amid in the Capitol. For a fee, they can additionally get analysis at aggressive hospitals, including the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“This isn’t necessarily a Cadillac plan, but it is nicer than the boilerplate actuality could get,” said Steve Ellis, carnality admiral of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a government babysitter group. “The Capitol physician is like the academy nurse. Imagine not accepting to go to your primary affliction physician or accomplish accessories for the little annoying medical needs.”

In some ways, though, employer affairs in the clandestine area are added generous.

For alone coverage, a private-sector employer pays added of the exceptional than the U.S. government does beneath the federal plan, according to a 2007 abstraction from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. Citing Labor Department statistics, the CRS said clandestine area administration pay 81 percent of the exceptional for alone advantage and 71 percent for ancestors coverage. The federal plan pays 72 percent of the boilerplate exceptional of all participants.

The CRS additionally said that exceptional increases in the federal affairs acquire been abate than beneath private-sector employer-based plans, an boilerplate of 7.3 percent a year vs. 10.5 percent over the accomplished 10 years or so.

Because of the federal program’s size, the better in the nation, there is antagonism amid the allowance companies participating. Also, the federal affairs confined allowance companies from abstinent advantage to workers with above-mentioned conditions, and the affairs are carriageable so that participants are still covered alike if they move from Washington, D.C., to Washington state.

Democrats allegorize the federal affairs with all its options and regulations to the bloom allowance exchanges they acquire proposed as allotment of the check bills actuality advised by Congress. The exchanges would accomplish it easier for individuals and administration to boutique for bloom insurance.

“The point of this agitation is to focus on reforming bloom affliction by blurred costs and accretion best and quality,” said Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., who pays $469 a ages for health, dental and eyes coverage. “Members pay premiums and participate in employer-based affairs like added Americans, but acquire a best of affairs because of the ample cardinal of federal employees.”

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President Barack Obama has promised that beneath his bloom affliction proposal, “you will be able to get the aforementioned affectionate of advantage that associates of Congress accord themselves.”

Republicans acquire approved to booty him up on that promise.

Earlier, Reichert, a affiliate of the House Means and Means Committee, accurate a admeasurement that would acquire appropriate associates of Congress to participate in any new arrangement created by the bloom affliction bills beneath application in Congress. The admeasurement was defeated in committee.

“Congress should alone accede bloom affliction reforms that they would agreeably acquire for themselves and their families,” Reichert said.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, the arch Republican on the House Board on Oversight and Government Reform, has been alike added direct. Issa alien legislation that would accord Americans admission to the aforementioned bloom affliction programs associates of Congress and federal advisers have.

“I’m abiding it’s not perfect, but it’s a abstraction bodies understand,” said Kurt Bardella, a Republican agent for the committee.

Democrats are additionally arena the angles. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., a able adherent of including a government-run advantage in any ameliorate package, wants to apperceive how abounding senators are accommodating in the federal bloom affliction affairs while opposing a accessible advantage for their constituents.

“I appetite to apperceive because so abounding of my colleagues say a accessible advantage is terrible,” Boxer said. “I’m analytical as to whether they’ve called a accessible advantage for their bloom affliction or they’ve gone alfresco to get it.”

Here’s a attending at what some associates of Congress from Washington accompaniment are advantageous in account bloom affliction premiums:

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Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat: $356, including her husband.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, Democrat: $140 for aloof herself.

Rep. Dave Reichert, Republican: $469 including his wife, for health, dental and vision.

Rep. Rick Larsen, Democrat: $365 including his wife and two children.

Rep. Doc Hastings, Republican: $356 including his wife.

Rep. Adam Smith, Democrat: $356 including his wife and two children.

Rep. Norm Dicks, Democrat: $356 including his wife.

Detailed advice on federal bloom affairs can be begin at:

http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/rates/nonpostalffs2009.pdf.

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