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Calling GOP’s bluff: Will lawmakers and their aides opt out of Obamacare?

When the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges opens just over a month from now, Congress won't be "exempt" as Republicans like to claim.

Far from it, they'll also be putting the right's commitment to breaking Obamacare -- particularly by encouraging folks to opt out of the exchanges -- to the test.

As employees of a large employer (the largest in the country, actually) members and their staffs will be uniquely targeted by a requirement that they ditch their current policies and choose new coverage in "Obamacare." They'll get a pretty good deal. Both members and their aides will be able to keep the federal government's existing contribution toward their insurance premiums, and that's in addition to the tax credits some junior staffers will likely qualify for in the exchanges, based on their incomes.

Here's a quick primer for the uninitiated. During the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tried to trap Democrats by introducing an amendment requiring that most members and aides switch their health benefits from their existing coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan to one of the plans offered on a state-based insurance exchange. The idea was that Democrats would vote it down (for both principled and self-interested reasons) and Republicans would have a new talking point: Democrats want Obamacare for thee, but not for me.

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