An unsurprising development in the ObamaCare saga was reported Wednesday by Politico: Congressional leaders are conducting secret negotiations to exempt themselves and their staffs from the health insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The federal health care law requires Washington lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers to obtain health insurance through the exchanges created by the ACA. As the law currently stands, health insurance plans offered through an exchange will be partially, but not fully, subsidized, which could result in thousands of dollars in additional health care costs for low-paid Congressional staffers. The concern among Washington insiders is that this could lead to a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill, as staffers seek better-paying jobs in the private sector.
During debate over the health care law in 2009-10, Republicans added a requirement that lawmakers and their staffs must have the same coverage as the rest of the country, and must therefore seek health insurance coverage on the exchanges if they qualify. As the deadline for implementation looms and the true costs of health insurance under the ACA become clear, lawmakers are understandably-if hypocritically-looking for a way out.
But even as they seek exemption from the law’s mandates (which Senator Harry Reid denies) ObamaCare supporters are claiming that it’s just the implementation, not the law itself, that’s the real problem. So said Senator Max Baucus, one of the architects of ObamaCare, who last week let slip that the law risks becoming a “huge train wreck” if it’s not implemented properly. This week, amid growing criticism of the ACA, Baucus announced he would not seek reelection in 2014, just as the deluge of taxes, fees, and mandates of the law take effect.
ObamaCare has always been unpopular with voters, never having achieved even a 50 percent approval rating, and it apparently enjoys a similarly bad reputation among Congressmen who want to get out from under its mandates.
But if members of Congress don’t want to go onto the exchanges, here’s an alternative: enroll in Medicaid. If it’s good enough for the 16 million Americans who were supposed to be forced into the program when the law passed, it should be good enough for the Congressmen who voted to expand it. As for their staffers, they shouldn’t quit just yet; it might be tough to find a job once ObamaCare kicks in-especially one that offers affordable health insurance.