By Ric Joyner
Enjoyed my day meeting with my representatives. The first was Senator Feingold’s aid…Andrew S. Our mission was not to talk about ideology but how flex plans will be affected in health care.
Since the Dems are using reconciliation the process stops until the senate finishes. But the problem is that that House has to pass the Senate version (which has the two negative impacts on flex in it. Capping the health FSA and eliminating the over the counter medicine deduction in FSA, HRA and HSA.
We explained that our software vendor provided data on all their participants which provides about 1.2 million cdh account holders. The average dollar amount put into the FSA for health expenses was $1,563.17. I then explained that the problem with this that it is average numbers and singles put in much less than families so this numbers for actual participation with families is much higher and we were there to let the Senators know that our participants asked us to pass along to the representatives that this is a hidden tax. Same thing with over the counter meds.
Interesting fact, we waited in their lobbies and the phone rang off the hook with people calling to protest the health care bill. Finally one of the aids blew a gasket literally and started to argue with the constituent that health care did need overhauling. As we left, there were other folks from other associations that were lecturing the representatives staff on big government etc. and for them not to support this bill. But by and large the calls were steady in all the offices and they were overwhelmingly against this bill (there officially is no bill but just pieces and they will be cobbled together. But do watch the senate version and the house must pass this bill). The staffers said their job was take down and pass along the information to the member but that it was tiring!
There was genuine concern by staffers they could lose the house. They don’t think they will lose the Senate. They talked about Mass election catching them all by surprise.
The Senate Aides said they have the 50 votes (the VP adds 1) to pass the bill in the Senate but in the house it is unraveling. (This was told to us by Democratic Aides). One said she had been working so hard and long hours on a bill that she would be severely depressed if it didn’t happen.
Again we didn’t talk politics just asked the senators and representative to please work together to take out this hidden tax. We received positive comments that they would. (I have known most of them for years)
BTW we ended up lost below the Capital and we took a ride on the Senator’s subway train which I guess is a not allowed. A guard stopped us and asked if we were staff and we said no…just lost. He told us we weren’t supposed to be on the train and asked how we got there and we told him we came down the stairs and got on. He told us to come to his desk and he checked our IDs and gave us “official business Visitor” badges.
Oh boy that was cool. We got into a ton of places (and trains) we probably shouldn’t have. One staffer asked how we got the badges and we said it was fun riding the senators train and appreciated the nice officer that gave them to us. She said “Great, that is why I feel so safe in Washington” and rolled her eyes.
Ferdacripesake it is fun to be from Wisconsin!
One guy from NE was wearing a giant corn cob hat to represent the cornhusker pay off!