Congress Confused by Own Healthcare Reform Plan

Tuesday, 13 Apr 2010 06:45 PM

By Dan Weil

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Congress may have unwittingly cut itself out of its own generous healthcare coverage in the new healthcare reform law.

The healthcare package might remove members of Congress and staff from their current coverage – in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program – before any alternatives are available, according a new Congressional Research Service report.

“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?” wrote Robert Pear in The New York Times.

The law is supposed to guarantee that Americans can keep their current coverage if they want it.
And there is little reason for lawmakers and their aides not to want their current health insurance.

But the CRS report says, “It is unclear whether members of Congress and congressional staff who are currently participating in FEHBP may be able to retain this coverage.”

And even if they can, newly elected legislators probably won’t be able to join.

If Congress wants to maintain the status quo for itself, it will probably have to make a legislative adjustment or change internal policy.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sees a basic problem in all this.

“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?” he told the Times.

Political consultant Dick Morris does understand the health reform package.

And he told Newsmax.TV that President Barack Obama has "broken" the American system of providing healthcare and will now be held responsible for spiraling insurance premiums and doctor shortages.

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