The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents workers at the Internal Revenue Service, is asking its members to write letters to Capitol Hill saying they are "very concerned" about legislative efforts requiring IRS and Treasury employees to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges.
"I am a federal employee and one of your constituents," one letter begins, Forbes blogger Avik Roy reported on Friday. "I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)."
Camp, the Michigan Republican referred to in the letter, is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, whose members oversee tax legislation in the House of Representatives. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that Obamacare's insurance subsidies are technically tax credits, falling under the authority of the IRS.
Camp introduced legislation in April to put all federal employees on the healthcare exchanges in response to news reports that members of Congress and their staffs were seeking to be exempt from the Obamacare requirement that they enroll in the exchanges.
The effort by the Treasury Employees Union comes two weeks after representatives of three large labor unions fired off a strongly-worded letter to congressional Democrats, complaining that Obamacare would "shatter … our hard-earned health benefits" and create "nightmare scenarios" for their members.
The letter was signed by leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and UNITE HERE, which primarily represents hospitality industry workers.
"It is insulting to the American people that the IRS is desperately trying to avoid complying with the very law they will be enforcing on American taxpayers," a Camp spokeswoman told Newsmax on Friday. "Not surprising — another day, another example of unions trying to skirt a law they spent so much time and resources supporting just a few short years ago."
Overall, Obamacare has 47 separate provisions that involve the IRS. It is the second-largest agency, after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, charged with implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The IRS has to administer Obamacare's required purchase of health coverage, checking whether millions of Americans are in compliance.
However, "there is one legitimate issue regarding members of Congress and their staff enrolling in the exchanges," Forbes notes. "Today, federal employees are offered subsidies, or vouchers, which they can use to shop for insurance on the popular federal employees' exchange, called the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.
"Because Obamacare was drafted so hastily, it's not clear whether the law allows similar subsidies to flow to federal employees on the Obamacare exchanges," Forbes reports.
A ruling on the matter is forthcoming from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, according to Forbes.
"For inexplicable reasons," the Office of Personnel Management "has not clarified whether or not the government will be allowed to funnel subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges," Forbes notes.
"Nonetheless, it would be a very good thing for some federal employees to eat their own cooking, especially those who work for Congress, the IRS, and the Department of Health and Human Services," the Forbes report concludes. "They're the ones who are writing the Obamacare regulations; they're the ones who, in many cases, wrote the law itself.
"The IRS enforces Obamacare's individual mandate and eligibility for the exchange subsidies, among other provisions.
"They should be required to enroll in the same Obamacare exchanges that tens of millions of private citizens will have to," the report adds. "They should have to experience the same premium increases and limited flexibility that other Americans will endure there.
"Maybe then, we'll start to build a constituency for market-based reform."