‘We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as she rushed headlong toward passing President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill.
The idea was to pass something to save the Obama presidency and possibly the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
The predictable result: Weeks after it became law, we’re still finding out what’s in it, just like the House speaker said.
Would you believe that Obama-care contains a tax increase on the sick and the old?
That in their rush to save face and pass a bill, members of Congress might have accidentally left themselves and staffers without a health plan?
That Obamacare does nothing to stop the huge premium increases that Obama pointed at to justify his bill?
Last week, we looked at five surprises that came about due to legislative drafting errors and last-minute changes to the reconciliation “fix it” bill. This week, we look at three more.
Six: Obamacare was intended, eventually, to push members of Congress and their staffs out of the federal employees’ health care plan and into the exchanges created by the law. The problem is, those exchanges won’t exist for some time. And apparently due to an omission, the ban on offering the federal plan to Capitol Hill employees begins immediately.
The law states that “the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff” are plans created under Obamacare or offered in its exchanges. According to a 13-page report from the Congressional Research Service, prepared a week after Obamacare’s passage, this might mean that your congressman has no health coverage.
It’s not exactly clear, because the law also contains a clause stating that no one can be forced to give up coverage they already have. “It is difficult to predict which provision a court would find controlling,” the CRS said. At the very least, new hires on the Hill and new congressman appear to be out of luck when it comes to health coverage.
If it’s any consolation, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a medical doctor, tells me he might consider turning his office into a free clinic.
Seven: You don’t think Democrats in Congress would knock over their own cancer-stricken mothers to squeeze out a few extra dollars for earmarks? Oh, you’re so wrong.
Currently, people with massive medical expenses — more than 7.5 percent of their income — can deduct them on their taxes. Under Obamacare, the threshold goes up to 10 percent in 2013 for younger taxpayers and in 2017 for older ones.
According to The Hill, this unnoticed tax hike will squeeze $15.2 billion out of 15 million very sick people, 99 percent of whom make less than $200,000 per year.
Eight: Remember how Obama railed against health insurer Anthem for boosting its premiums for some California customers by 39 percent, and used that example in speeches as a justification for passing Obamacare? He said, “How much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it?”
Perhaps you thought he meant he was going to do something about it. Well, ha, ha, joke’s on you. That was just demagoguery.
If you were paying very close attention hours before the House vote, you would have noticed that there was nothing in the Obama-care fix-it bill to prevent 40 or even 100 percent premium increases.
Not that government-imposed price controls can solve health care’s problems. But how can a 2,000-plus page bill that apparently no one took the time to read carefully?
Columnist David Freddoso is The Washington Examiner’s online opinion editor.