Another ACA glitch

Congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle were shocked, shocked! last week to learn that their contributions to health insurance premiums could jump by thousands of dollars.

President Obama deemed the matter dire enough to become personally involved, he told Democratic legislators last week.

The problem was that there was no clear way for the federal government to contribute to the state health insurance exchanges through which most staffers would be required to buy health insurance.

As a result of Obama’s involvement, the Office of Personnel Management is expected to issue a ruling allowing the government to continue contributions to the health care coverage of most aides.

Republicans were quick to make political hay off the deal, and we’re certain that while some publicly questioned it, they were privately accepting congratulations and thanks from their staffers.

Right on schedule, Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, called the fix an “outrageous exemption for Congress.”

However hollow the criticism of avowed opponents of the president’s signature law, it’s also clear that supporters of the measure have known since 2009, when Obama signed it, that this was an issue.

Now, with but two months until individuals and small employers are required to begin signing up with exchanges for coverage beginning in January, the issue came to a boiling point, requiring Obama’s direct involvement.

It doesn’t help that this comes on the heels of the president deciding last month to suspend the requirement of the Affordable Care Act for large employers without similar thought for individuals and smaller employers.

Confusion and last-second fixes will do little to reassure already jittery consumers that the system approved four years ago is actually ready for prime time.

Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said this year he anticipated a “train wreck” as the Affordable Care Act came into full implementation in 2014.

We hope Baucus is wrong and we note that Colorado is as well-positioned as any state to start its health care exchange, called Connect for Health Colorado, but we also hope that Washington is done with spur-of-the-moment fixes and political gamesmanship as the time of full implementation approaches.



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