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Some in FL GOP to March on Capitol

Continuing the split in the GOP,  some in Congress want to take an action that would quadruple the cost of health insurance for themselves, their colleagues and all the employees who work in the Capitol. And some Floridians are in the thick of it.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis said he will introduce a bill that removes the federal funds from the premiums of members of Congress and their staff, Politico.comreports.  And U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho is one of the speakers scheduled for a march on the Capitol to demand the action next Tuesday.

Photos of Yoho, from north-central Florida, and former U.S. Rep. Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens popped up on the website of Exempt America as two of the speakers for the Sept. 10 march on the Capitol.

Exempt America’s website says: “Even Big Government is getting a carve out now that the Office of Personnel Management has outlined a way for the government to subsidize health care premiums for members of Congress and their staffers.”

DeSantis, a Republican who represents Florida’s northeast coast, has said he will introduce a bill that would “prohibit members of Congress and congressional staff from receiving any government contributions with respect to an exchange-based health care plan that is not available to the American people.”

Media Matters reports there is little meat to the claim that Congress exempted itself from the Affordable Care Act. What happened is more complicated: During the writing of the law, a Republican lawmaker insisted that members of Congress and their staffs should have to use the online exchange -- now called “Marketplace” --  that is being set up as a shopping site for the uninsured.

The Tea Party and the most conservative wing of the Republican Party demand that members of Congress and their staff be treated like all others on the Marketplace. However, that would mean they would have no employer contribution -- no federal funds -- toward their premiums, unless they had incomes low enough for subsidies.

So most would end up paying 100 percent of the cost of their health insurance, rather than the 25 percent they pay now.  That threatened to create a rebellion.

So the Obama administration created a rule that said they could continue to use the federal funds for premiums, same as before.

Last week, Health News Floridareported that eight members of the Florida Republican delegation to the House had signed onto a bill demanding defunding of Obamacare when the budget talks start. Nine members were not listed as signers, but it isn't clear whether they disagree, as some GOP leaders in Washington do.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.