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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nothing Like Karma: Obamacare Bill May Separate Congress From Their Health Care

I used to have a boss who, every time someone made an error caused by haste, would say, "There is never enough time to do it right the first time,but there is always time to do it right the second time."  In its haste to get Obamacare signed before they had to face their constituents, Congress may have hurt their own access to health care. I believe the technical term for that is Karma.

The congress doesn't just have any old heath care plan either. Some insurance plans described as "Cadillac plans" then there is FEHBP. (the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program).  FEHBP, is not a Cadillac, its more like a Rolls Royce.

The New York Times is reporting today,
“It is unclear whether members of Congress and Congressional staff who are currently participating in F.E.H.B.P. [the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program] may be able to retain this coverage.”
Here is the problem, there is a statute in the law that bars members of Congress (and their staffs) from participating in FEHBP. It was placed in the bill way back when the Senate Finance Committee was working on their mark-up of the legislation. This was a concession to many of their constituents who rightfully demanded that lawmakers join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based insurance exchanges.Unless noted, each part of the bill takes effect immediately. The exchanges are not set up until 2014, but in their haste Congress forgot to put in a provision delaying the ban on participating in the FEHBP which means unless they do something about it, they have to find their own coverage for the next four years.

The good news is that this would not affect the other federal employees.

Congress will have to find away to weasel out of this, either by correcting it by legislation or finding a good lawyer who can re-interpret the rules so they can keep their present plans under the new law.

How many times during the course of the debate did you hear one of the progressives in congress say, we have debated this for 100 years, why delay it any further? Maybe one of the reasons is to get out the mistakes.  This entire legislation is a jumbled mess. No one, including the people who voted on it has any Idea what is in the bill and how it is to be interpreted. There have been many mistakes already discovered, remember the "no pre-existing conditions for kids" omission? This latest mess-up is just Karma and it serves them right.

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