NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Obama administration is out to fix a major snafu with its signature accomplishment, Obamacare.
The problem affects members of Congress and the people who work for them.
But some complain the proposed fix is both illegal, and unfair, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday.
Critics said it’s an example of how Washington ignores rules everyone else must follow, and how in the rush to pass Obamacare, even members of Congress didn’t realize what was in it.
“There’s a lot of concern that Congress is making up the rules as they go along for themselves,” Manhattan Institute healthcare expert Avik Roy told CBS 2’s Aiello.
Roy said it was a pretty big “oops.”
When a bitterly divided Congress approved Obamacare it agreed that representatives, senators and thousands of staffers would drop their private insurance and move into the new Obamacare insurance exchanges.
The private insurance was heavily subsidized by taxpayers, but Obamacare doesn’t allow for subsidies for people making the six-figure salaries that are common on Capitol Hill.
So all those Washington insiders could have been forced to pay up to $10,000 out-of-pocket.
“This was a big crisis for Congress because congressman and their staffs were going to lose their health benefits,” Roy said.
But just before members left Washington for the August recess the president himself promised to fix the issue.
“Look, the administration and the leaders are working on that. I don’t know the details,” Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) said.
Well, the details are raising eyebrows. Instead of asking Congress to amend the law, the Obama administration wants to order a government agency called OPM to just pay for congressional workers’ Obamacare subsidies.
But at least one analysis has found, “OPM does not have the legal authority to do this. So there’s some controversy. Some people say there really needs to be a legislative fix. You have to have an act of Congress passed to fix this problem,” Roy said.
But the president doesn’t want Congress “fixing” Obamacare, fearing they’ll make other changes.
The question now is whether opponents will challenge this move in court.
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