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Democrats expected to exempt staff from Obamacare

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,Republican Party,Democratic Party,Vitter amendment

Facing a deadline today on deciding if Senate and House committees staffers will be swept into Obamacare like personal office aides of members, sources tell Secrets that several Democratic staffs will likely be kept out of the troubled health care system.

Such a move to shield thousands of aides would be a blow to efforts to have all of Capitol Hill enrolled into the system the president and congressional Democrats created.

Said a top Senate GOP staffer: “If Obamacare is so awesome, why the hell aren't Democratic committee chairmen giving their staff the gift of losing the insurance they have and be dumped into Obamacare like the rest of us?”

Under the rules governing Obamacare, the personal office staffs of House and Senate members have to shift from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to Obamacare. They will continue receiving their federal contribution so that out of pocket expenses won't surge, though there is an effort to take that away.

Staffs of Hill leadership members and committees, however, can be kept out of the health insurance exchange, and Friday is the deadline for committee chairs and ranking members to decide if their committee aides will be put into Obamacare.

According to several sources, most or all GOP committee staffers in the Senate are expected to be shifted over to Obamacare. Many Democratic staffs, however, are not expected to be moved into Obamacare, though the final decision will be made Friday.

One exception reported to Secrets is the majority staff working for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Budget Committee. One source said that her decision could sway Democratic colleagues at the last minute.

In the House, no moves have been revealed and a top GOP aide said the decisions won’t be made until Friday.

According to Senate documents, keeping committee and leadership aides in the federal health insurance system requires no action. But pushing aides over to Obamacare requires committee chairs and ranking members to designate workers as being paid by their “official office” fund.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.