Congress terminates their "cadillac" insurance plan
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.
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 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.
The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program.
Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment” unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law. The law was enacted when President Obama signed it three weeks ago.
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.
“This omission, whether intentional or inadvertent, raises questions regarding interpretation and implementation that cannot be definitively resolved by the Congressional Research Service,” the report says. “The statute does not appear to be self-executing, but rather seems to require an administrating or implementing authority that is not specifically provided for by the statutory text.”
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.
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.
Seriously. What motards. They thought they were just screwing us and it turns out that they totally screwed themselves. AWESOME!