OPM’s Final Rule Pretty Much as Expected

OPM’s final rule on congressional health care says the following regarding the determination of who is “congressional staff” required to go on the Exchanges:

OPM received several comments related to health care coverage for congressional staff and how staff will be designated for the purpose of determining which individuals are required to purchase their health insurance coverage from an Exchange.

 OPM has not amended the final rule on the basis of these comments. OPM continues to believe that individual Members or their designees are in the best position to determine which staff work in the official office of each Member.  Accordingly, OPM will leave those determinations to the Members or their designees, and will not interfere in the process by which a Member of Congress may work with the House and Senate Administrative Offices to determine which of their staff are eligible for a Government contribution towards a health benefits plan purchased through an appropriate Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) as determined by the Director.  Nothing in this regulation limits a Member’s authority to delegate to the House or Senate Administrative Offices the Member’s decision about the proper designation of his or her staff. The final rule has been amended to provide an extension for staff designations affecting plan year 2014 only. Designations for individuals hired throughout the plan year should be made at the time of hire.

Again, reading between the lines, one can infer that “the official office of each Member” refers to the Member’s personal office, but OPM studiously avoids saying this directly. Thus, if a Member chooses to designate committee or leadership office employees as “congressional staff,” it sounds like OPM “will not interfere.”

Though it is hard to tell for sure.

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