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NYT: Lawmakers Baffled By Obama-Care

From a suddenly inquisitive New York Times:

Baffled by Health Plan? So Are Some Lawmakers

By ROBERT PEAR

April 12, 2010

WASHINGTON — It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves.

In a new report, the Congressional Research Service says the law may have significant unintended consequences for the “personal health insurance coverage” of senators, representatives and their staff members.

Did the Congressional Research Service bother to say anything about how Obama-care will affect us lowly citizens?

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

The confusion raises the inevitable question: If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?

The law promises that people can keep coverage they like, largely unchanged. For members of Congress and their aides, the federal employees health program offers much to like. But, the report says, the men and women who wrote the law may find that the guarantee of stability does not apply to them.

“It is unclear whether members of Congress and Congressional staff who are currently participating in F.E.H.B.P. may be able to retain this coverage,” the research service said in an 8,100-word memorandum.

And even if current members of Congress can stay in the popular program for federal employees, that option will probably not be available to newly elected lawmakers, the report says.

Isn’t irony ironic?

Moreover, it says, the strictures of the new law will apply to staff members who work in the personal office of a member of Congress. But they may or may not apply to people who work on the staff of Congressional committees and in “leadership offices” like those of the House speaker and the Democratic and Republican leaders and whips in the two chambers.

Be fair. Legislators can’t be expected to spell out every little detail in a scant 2,074 page bill.

These seemingly technical questions will affect 535 members of Congress and thousands of Congressional employees. But the issue also has immense symbolic and political importance. Lawmakers of both parties have repeatedly said their goal is to provide all Americans with access to health insurance as good as what Congress has.

Congress must now decide what steps, if any, it can take to deal with the problem. It could try for a legislative fix, or it could adopt internal policies to minimize any disruptions.

Will Congress show as much concern for any unforeseen consequences that might affect the rest of us? We jump to enact legislative fixes or adopt policies to minimize disruptions?

For some reason we are skeptical.

In its painstaking analysis of the new law, the research service says the impact on Congress itself and the intent of Congress are difficult to ascertain.

The law apparently bars members of Congress from the federal employees health program, on the assumption that lawmakers should join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.

But the research service found that this provision was written in an imprecise, confusing way, so it is not clear when it takes effect

In addition, the report says, Congress did not designate anyone to resolve these “ambiguities” or to help arrange health insurance for members of Congress in the future

The White House said last month that Mr. Obama would voluntarily participate in the health insurance exchange, though the law does not require him or other administration officials to do so. His participation as president may depend on his getting re-elected in 2012.

Good one!

Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, said lawmakers were in the same boat as many Americans, trying to figure out what the new law meant for them.

“If members of Congress cannot explain how it’s going to work for them and their staff, how will they explain it to the rest of America?” Mr. Chaffetz asked in an interview…

That is why Obama’s ‘astroturf’ army of union thugs, HCAN, is staying on the job — to explain all these piffling details to the great unwashed.

Why don’t these Congressmen just give the SEIU a call?

After all, they wrote the damn bill.

(Thanks to Wardmama4 for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “NYT: Lawmakers Baffled By Obama-Care”

  1. wardmama4 says:

    This is just too juicy to pass up – and the NYTs no less – weren’t they leading the cheers for Obamacare just a few weeks ago?

    Baffled by Health Plan? So Are Some Lawmakers
    New York Times
    By ROBERT PEAR
    Published: April 12, 2010
    WASHINGTON — It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves.
    In a new report, the Congressional Research Service says the law may have significant unintended consequences for the “personal health insurance coverage” of senators, representatives and their staff members.
    http://tinyurl.com/y49nllx

  2. NoNeoCommies says:

    BwaHahahahahahahahahahahhahah!
    Sometimes you just have to laugh!
    It may come out kind of high pitched and hysterical, but it still feels better when you finish.
    I wonder when they will find the section that says it can’t be repealed?

  3. proreason says:

    Oh I think members of Congress will have triple-gold-plated health insurance, no matter what the words in the bill say.

    But that’s just a hunch.

    A hunch based on the fact that every living member of congress has become princely wealthy while in office.

    Except of course, poor Joe Biden, who struggles to survive in his 6000+ square foot mansion, on those 14 wooded lakeside acres of prime East Coast property, that he was forced to pay nearly $400K for.

  4. Right of the People says:

    I guess this is one of those “tweaks” they were going to do to the bill through reconciliation.

    Whew, I’m sure glad the Slimes caught this otherwise the poor members of congress and their staffs might have lost their Cadillac plan.

    Reading a bill or a contract before signing it is a good thing. Someone needs to point this out to the 535 bozos in the big domed building in DC.

  5. jackal40 says:

    “Congress must now decide what steps, if any, it can take to deal with the problem. It could try for a legislative fix, or it could adopt internal policies to minimize any disruptions. ”

    Maybe they could just be like their constituents and get their own health care (or not as the case may be). Would be nice if congress actually had to abide by a law they passed for “the rest of us”.

  6. confucius says:

    This has got to be the first boomerang digital exam in the history of medicine.

  7. wardmama4 says:

    I would love to take the credit for finding this gem, but alas must admit that it was my hubby who insisted that I read it – however, once I did – I just knew that my friends over at S&L would love it.


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