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  • Side Effects: Special Treatment for Congress

    As we noted last week, Congress screwed up the language of their health care bill at their own expense. But, thanks to Obama administration lawyers, members and their immediate personal staff might be able to keep their existing health insurance coverage — for now.

    The problem, as Heritage and others noted, is that the bill’s language says they have legislated themselves out of their own coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and into the newly created health insurance exchanges they’re imposing on the states. Without the timely intervention of the administration’s lawyers, the language might require them to do so right away.

    But the administration’s interpretation, which rescues Congress from its own handiwork, is not the only possible one. The new law doesn’t spell out when Congress will lose its current coverage. In such a case, the standard rule is that when a specific legislative provision has no effective date, the provision takes effect upon the date the law is enacted. The FEHBP-dumping provision has no date, but the health insurance exchanges do have an effective date: 2014. Under the standard rule, congressional members and staff would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle — or FEHBP coverage — for the next four years. Presumably, they would have to buy insurance coverage on the open market.

    The Congressional Research Service (CRS) says “reasonable arguments” can be made that lawmakers can keep their FEHBP coverage until the state-operated exchanges or “other health plan” is made available to them. But that’s not the norm. According to CRS, “In general, when interpreting statutory language, courts often assume that Congress means what it says.”

    Such an assumption would be a giant leap of faith. The screw-ups and unintended consequences in this massive legislation are too numerous to be ascribed to anything resembling pre-meditation.

    Congress and its staff are lucky. The president’s team at the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the FEHBP, chose not to take Congress at its word, or follow the traditional canons of legislative construction. They must be — how shall we put it? — special. So, assuming there are no successful lawsuits to the contrary, OPM probably bought them a few years to ponder what they did to themselves — and their staffs — and their fellow countrymen. Too bad the latter can’t bet on getting any special fixes.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Side Effects: Special Treatment for Congress

    1. Pingback: » Financial News Update – 04/27/10 NoisyRoom.net: Fighting for the Constitution

    2. Dennis Drake, Indian says:

      It is just what I expected. When the members of Congress can make a game out of voting for legislation, based on inducements and bribes, without even reading the legislation, what else can we citizens expect from our Congress and the Leader of the pack, President O'bama. O'bama has no credibility with me and many of you other folks, we just have to convenice some of the voters who voted for him, that it was a tragic mistake on their part. Most of them who voted for him feels that way, but many black voters, still will stick with him just because of race. Many of them probably feel this messed up government, is just what we other folks deserve, probably, especially those who follow O'bama's

      preacher's religion.

      O'bama has ordered all fence construction, on the US / Mexican border to be halted, he sees the potential many more millions of Hispanics that can get in illegally as future supporters, I believe that, and many of you do too! We need to support the folks in Arizona with all that we can give them, for their courage on their Illegal Immigration Bill. I commend those legislators and Governor Brewer!

      We need to pass legislation like Arizona's in many other states, including this state of mine, Indiana. Our Governor though just won't show the courage to stand up for the rule of law, and support our State Senate for the last two years they passed Illegal Immigration Bills, good ones, lead by Senator Mike Delph of Carmel, Indiana. But without the Governor's support, our Indiana House just shows its run by corrupt Democrats and our Rep Governor won't stand with his Republican Senate!

      We must show O'bama the door in the next Presidential election, and for God's sake, help us to never make such a bad mistake as that again!

      We need to also show our Democrat Congressmen who voted for this nightmare of an Obamacare Health bill, the way to the unemployment line, but most of them have corruption based jobs waiting on them should they lose the election, they will just stay in Washington DC and become lobbyists, most of them do , end up doing that, its a fact!

      We need Term Limits and we need all new people who will agree to answer to the people who elect them, and they must agree to bne citizen legislators, not career crooks!

      When are we Tea Party people going to get real mad about the way O'bama talks condescendingly about us?

      Please advise, I would like to hear from fellow Heritage subscribers.

      Oh, yes, Please vote for John Hostettler, for Indiana US Senate too, we must keep him employed as one of our state's elected officials, this time.

      Thank you all, Dennis R. Drake, Conservate Independent & and supporter of the Tea Party movement 100%.

    3. Zack says:

      #1 because they can afford it.

      #2 because they are infact federal employee's

      #3 Heritage, give it a rest!

    4. Billie says:

      #1 afford what?

      #2 so what!

      #3 great job Heritage!

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