House Staffers Getting up to Speed on Health Exchanges

Posted November 7, 2013 at 9:50am

House staffers descended upon the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium Thursday morning for a two-hour briefing on obtaining employer-provided health care plans through the District’s health insurance marketplace.

Many clutched legal notepads and pens, ready to take notes on how to navigate DC Health Link when open enrollment begins Nov. 11. Some carried coffee cups into the 10 a.m. meeting, in an effort to stay alert through info-heavy presentations from the Office of Personnel Management, DC Health Link and the carriers offering insurance plans through the District’s exchange.

According to regulations issued by OPM on Oct. 2, congressional staff employed by the “official office” of a member will no longer be eligible for their current federal benefits plans in 2014. They will instead be eligible for health plans through DC Health Link. The briefing prepared staff for the four-week open enrollment period, which ends Dec. 9.

Staff from the House Administration Committee guarded the doors, asking to see congressional IDs before granting access to the briefing. Although capacity was limited to fewer than 500 seats, there was still space to accommodate late arrivals — some showed up 15 minutes into the presentation.

Those who couldn’t make it to the 10 a.m. briefing had the option of catching a briefing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The session was also broadcast live on the House’s closed-circuit cable TV system.

District staff could tune in from state offices using a link on the House’s internal website. The briefing was closed to members of the press.

Staffers who still have questions can always call the House Chief Administrative Officer’s Office of Payroll and Benefits, or drop into upcoming daily open houses. Those will take place in Room 1310 of the Longworth House Office Building starting Friday.