NYT: ObamaCare may have accidentally stripped Congress of health coverage
posted at 9:47 pm on April 12, 2010 by Allahpundit
The perfect ending to a day that saw support for repealing O-Care reach a new high in Rasmussen (58 percent) and support for The One reach a new weekly low in Gallup (47 percent). Turns out that fantastically long, mind-bogglingly complex bills which no one has actually read may create unintended consequences. Remember how they forgot to require insurers to cover kids with preexisting conditions? Oh, and they forgot initially to let young adults be covered by their parents’ insurance until Reid fixed it in reconciliation. Now this. Who knew that when Pelosi said they’d have to pass the bill so that people could find out what’s in it, “people” meant Congress?
I’d call it comedy gold if not for the obvious point raised by the Times: “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 other words, theoretically the law kicks them out of the federal health plan now in order to force them to join insurance exchanges … that don’t exist yet. Looking forward to tomorrow, when we’re inevitably told that they meant to do that. Exit question for lawyers: Who would have standing to sue to force the federal health plan to drop Congress now? Any citizen, or is it more refined than that?