Stumbling ahead

Back when the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act was under debate in Congress, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously urged quick passage of the massive piece of health care overhaul legislation during an appearance before the Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties in March 2010 "so that you can find out what's in it." More than three years later, and with many facets of the federal health care law set to go into effect in less than six months, a lot of people still don't know what the act will do.

The latest evidence is a story posted Thursday on the Politico news website. It reported that many congressional aides and some representatives and senators are considering either quitting or not seeking re-election to avoid a huge increase in their health insurance premiums next year.

Lawmakers and their aides have been getting cheap, heavily subsidized medical insurance coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. Under the health care act, however, they are supposed to move in 2014 to the health care exchanges the federal law is creating. In doing so they face a "steep spike" in their health insurance costs, according to the Politico article.

As might be expected, many Republicans in Congress see this as a looming crisis, while Democrats are suggesting that any potential problems will be resolved before causing serious difficulties.

The thing we find the most disturbing is the hard-to-discount impression that no one - friend or foe of the Affordable Care Act - knows with any certainty how the health care law will be implemented and what it will do to health care consumers in and out of Congress.
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