The Affordable Care Act’s many problems

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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It seems that every week we find out something new and not so exciting about the Affordable Care Act. None of these little surprises has been good.

The latest has to do with congressional staffers, who currently have good insurance coverage. Almost 75 percent of that coverage is paid by their employers, which is competitive with many major corporations and is the right thing to do.

To some people’s surprise, including some members of Congress who voted for the Affordable Care Act, it requires that most congressional staffers, and the members of Congress they work for, give up their current coverage and get new insurance from the health insurance exchanges created by the act.

These are the same exchanges that are having trouble getting up and running and could miss the Oct. 1 deadline to begin open enrollment.

There was also one other problem: No one thought to include the money to keep paying the staffers’ insurance costs.

Those who voted for the bill also failed to acknowledge that insurance from the exchanges would cost more than the insurance staffers are getting now. The staffers’ choices also could be severely limited compared to what they have now and have had in the past.

The federal government has now said it will cover the staffers’ cost, which is what it should have been done all along. But because the insurance will cost more, that means it will take more of our tax dollars to pay that bill.

It will also mean more money out of staffers’ pockets, most of whom are underpaid in the first place and do not need that added financial strain on their personal budgets.

This is completely unfair to these employees. I know there are some who argue that if it is good enough for us it should be good enough for them, but that is not the point here.

Many corporations provide insurance for their employees and aren’t forcing them to buy new coverage from the more expensive exchanges.

In fact, this isn’t even a requirement for other federal employees, who are completely against being forced to give up their current healthcare coverage. Even the union that represents IRS workers sent a form letter to members urging that they oppose any requirement that all federal workers be required to shop the insurance exchange for coverage.

Yes, the same IRS that is charged with enforcing the Affordable Care Act. This is also another argument against the whole Affordable Care Act.

We can’t keep finding these hidden gems inside a complicated law that no one fully understands. It makes you wonder what comes next.

The thing I don’t wonder about: whether it will actually work. I think that answer is pretty clear: It won’t — neither in the short or long term.

From putting off the business insurance requirement to this latest glitch, it is abundantly clear that very few people to this day actually know how the act will work, or even if it will ever be fully implemented, since parts of it keep getting delayed.

I think we all know what the answer is. The first part of the answer is to repeal the Affordable Care Act before it has a chance to do some real damage to our economy and our job market.

The second part of the answer is to pass something that will truly help people get affordable insurance coverage. This law will not do that.

Bill Hammond is president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business.

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