By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 11/18/2009 2:01:37 PM ET 2009-11-18T19:01:37

Claim: Democrats' legislation will require members of Congress to enroll in the same insurance program as other Americans.

Members of Congress and members of congressional staffs get their insurance coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan which offers a variety of private-sector policies from which to choose. Congress is debating an overhaul which would require uninsured Americans to buy coverage and would give subsidies to those for whom purchasing insurance may be financially difficult. One option offered to the uninsured: buying through new "exchanges," which would be Internet-based marketplaces, similar to the travel Web sites such as Orbitz, where people could shop for coverage.

Fact or fiction?
Unclear. The bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee bill requires that beginning in 2013 members of Congress and staff members buy insurance through the new exchanges. The House bill does not require this. "It's only fair that if our constituents are going to be buying through though the exchange, so should we on Capitol Hill," said the sponsor of the amendment, Sen. Charles Grassley, R- Iowa. "After all, the exchange will offer the same type of private coverage options as the current federal employee health benefit plan." His amendment was approved by the Finance Committee with no debate and no recorded vote, which suggests that some members might not have taken it seriously, but didn't want to openly oppose it. It is impossible to say if it will be in the final bill once the Senate and House reconcile their conflicting measures.

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