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Congress gets ObamaCare relief; public pays

With each passing day as the country lurches toward full implementation of ObamaCare — or at least as full as President Barack Obama deems politically helpful — it seems another report comes out noting yet another problem. It’s rarely the gift that keeps on giving, but rather the gift that keeps on taking away, and it’s not even in full effect yet.

In the case of the latest revision, ObamaCare both gave and took away, giving an exemption to members of Congress and their staffs, which in turn will take more money from the taxpayers in order to cover the health plans of our duly elected representatives and all their employees.

As reported Monday by The Wall Street Journal, the Affordable Care Act requires members of Congress and their staffs to participate in its insurance exchanges, “in order to gain first-hand experience with what they’re about to impose on their constituents.” However, that statute means that Congress members and staff — numbering about 11,000 — will lose their gold-standard coverage from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and instead have to get the Medicaid Plus plan available on the exchanges, a lower-quality, lower-priced option. Furthermore, members of congress ($174,000 average annual salary) and their better-paid aides would get zero ObamaCare subsidies, jacking up their out-of-pocket costs by potentially thousands of dollars.

That didn’t set well with the well-connected political class. So in rode the president last week to again breach the law in his signature achievement. Weeks after unilaterally delaying the employer mandate for a year for large businesses, Mr. Obama has now suspended the portion of the law that negatively effects Congress, a move the Journal deemed illegal. The report noted that details haven’t been released yet, but that leaks suggested Congress members and staffers will receive extra payments from the federal benefits program — perhaps in the form of cutting checks straight to those insured, or by sticking with the formula that covers 75 percent of the average plan’s cost. But that cost could be far greater than what the current program contributes, depending on which ObamaCare plan the worker selects.

So the taxpayers get stuck paying a higher bill to keep Congress from feeling the sting of ObamaCare, as the president creates a two-tiered system that rewards the elite political class. And taxpayers actually get to feel the sting multiple times, based on what ObamaCare does to their current health care plans — if they can keep them — and how much they’ll have to pay to help subsidize the health care of others.

But that’s not all that’s come out in recent days:

■ Howard Dean, Democratic bullhorn and generally an ObamaCare defender, admitted in his own piece in The Wall Street Journal that the Independent Payment Advisory Board “is essentially a health care rationing body.” So Mr. Dean now agrees with Sarah Palin’s 2009 assertion that IPAB amounts to a death panel. Mr. Dean wouldn’t use that term, but was willing to say that IPAB will frustrate patients and providers alike, “won’t save a single dime before 2021” and will fail to control costs.

■ Earlier this year, Contra Costa County, Calif., won approval to run an ObamaCare call center that was thought to be bringing nearly 200 full-time jobs for its Oct. 1 opening, and there were 7,000 applicants for those positions. Last week, it was announced that half of those positions will be part-time, which leads to the real kicker: Part-time employees shilling for ObamaCare won’t have health care benefits.

■ On July 25, The Associated Press reported that the Obama administration’s new marketing campaign for the run-up to implementation would cost nearly $700 million. If this is really such great legislation, why the need to spend such massive sums promoting it?

■ The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents the IRS, came out July 26 saying that it wants its members to remain in the federal benefits program and not get stuck in ObamaCare. The NTEU’s aim is to put its share of federal employees in a special class, just like Congress now is. The effort was pushback against legislation put forth by Rep. Dave Camp, R-MI, who is seeking to move all federal employees to the ObamaCare exchanges.

Mr. Camp isn’t averse to an exemption for members of the IRS union, with one major caveat, as a spokesman for Mr. Camp said: “(He) has long believed every American ought to be exempt from the law.”

With each new revelation, it’s easy to see why. We haven’t been alone in observing that ObamaCare, if implemented as written and signed by the president, will collapse under its own massive weight. The Obama administration itself has been adamant that ObamaCare is the law of the land in responding to House Republicans’ attempts to repeal it. These latest developments show that Republicans have been right all along in trying to undo this monstrosity. Halt the waivers, favors and delays. Repeal and replace with legislation allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, and wean the country from employee-based coverage in order to increase competition and drive down costs. That should be the priority of Congress before we hit Jan 1.

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