Congress, the ACA, and Crow?

I really had to chuckle when I both saw an article and heard a news blurb about Congress and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA). As many of you know, and more so that don’t know, a significant requirement under the ACA is the requirement to have minimum essential health insurance in place by 2014. The ACA is planning-encouraging-pushing all uninsured/underinsured legal Americans to purchase their insurance through the new Health Insurance Exchange (or Marketplace). The Exchange will determine if you are eligible for a premium tax credit to offset your insurance costs. Note, you don’t have to purchase through the Marketplace. You can purchase your minimum essential benefits through the individual market as well. (That was discussed in a previous blog.)

Now, if you have employer-offered health insurance and it meets the minimum essential benefits requirements, as defined under the ACA, then you are essentially grandfathered in the health insurance system and you’re good to go. Now this is where I started to chuckle at Congress’s own “who is the bigger dog in the yard” attitude.  Back in 2010 when Congress was writing the mandates for the ACA, the Republicans dared the Democrats to include a provision that required Congressional lawmakers and their aides to purchase their health insurance through the Exchange. Well, the Democrats called their bluff and did just that.  Come 2014, 535 lawmakers and thousands of congressional aides will now have to purchase their health insurance through the Exchange.

Are you chuckling yet? Do you see where this is going? Congress never intended to be a part of having to purchase insurance through the Exchange. As part of an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, members of Congress and their aides currently get about 75% of their premiums paid by the federal government. But because of the requirements laid out in the ACA, they are NOT eligible to purchase their insurance through the Exchange WITH employer assistance. That means they will be responsible for 100% of their premiums! NOW Congress is worried about a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill. Who is going to stay in their current job if they will be “saddled” with 100% of their insurance premium costs? The junior aides won’t be able to afford it and will resign. The senior aides will retire and/or move to private jobs elsewhere. There is fear there will be a mass exodus from Washington D.C. come this fall.

But the question begs to be asked…how is Congress going to get out of the “sticky situation” they themselves created? Congressional leaders have been talking behind closed doors for months to see how they can exempt themselves (lawmakers and aides) of a law that they themselves designed and passed. How do you think the American public will feel if Congress tries to amend the law and exclude themselves from the mandated requirement? Voices will ring loud and clear, “You are saying it is good enough for us but not good enough for you? Well, gee….that’s really thoughtful of you.”

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of Congress and the ACA. I guess at times the pen really is mightier than the sword…or the dog in this case.

No Comments

Comments are closed.

Call Now Button