The New York Times reports this morning on increasing levels of panic among Capitol Hill staffers as their hour of Obamacare coverage –or chaos– approaches. Long used to the comfortable coverage of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, the Obamacare nightmare law pushed Hill folks into the state exchanges, without subsidy or safety-net if those exchanges are, as expected, disasters of the first order.
The quick summary from the Times:
Under a wrinkle that dates back to enactment of the law, members of Congress and thousands of their aides are required to get their coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.
But the law does not provide any obvious way for the federal government to continue paying its share of the premiums for the comprehensive coverage.
If the government cannot do so, it could mean an additional expense of $5,000 a year for individuals and $11,000 for families under some of the most popular plans.
This is real hardship, of course, and many Hill staffers, conservatives as well as lefties, Republicans as well as Democrats are young parents on tight budgets. Their bosses shouldn’t be and aren’t indifferent to the situation they have been forced into, but neither should they simply fix one big problem in a law beset with problems.
Delay of all of Obamacare for a year makes abundant sense, as the president has recognized with his unilateral and very legally suspect postponement of parts of the legislative albatross. If the House acted quickly to put a one year delay of the individual mandate together with a patch for Hill staffers allowing them to be part of the Federal Employee Health benefits Plan for 2014 with subsidies equivalent to executive branch employees, great good would be accomplished all the way around, and the rubber match on Obamacare would be fought out in the fall of next year.
Over at the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Anderson writes about the public’s preference for delay of Obamacare over defunding, and GOP indifference to public opinion is a sure way to lose the war and all the battles. Getting the fix for Hill aides and a postponement of the individual mandate is a sensible and politically acceptable move for the House to make. If Harry Reid wants to punish all the Democrats on the Senate staffs, let that be on his head.