WASHINGTON (AP) — The official sign-up season for President Barack Obama's health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance. Three senior House members told The Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year. The three are Michigan's Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama's law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010. The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it's already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.
Even though I don't regularly watch my evening news, I paid attention to enough things to know two things about Obamacare (or what is more formally called the Affordable Care Act):
- Obamacare would change the healthcare laws in the United States to allow more people to have health care coverage. Though some may debate that actually happened, I'm not really interested in debating it one way or the other.
- Obamacare would essentially require everyone to have healthcare insurance, placing a mandatory tax on those who chose not to participate for whatever reason. While some would debate the constitutionality of such a tax, the US Supreme Court said it was constitutional.
Now Obamacare is the law of the land and the very same Democrats who pushed Obamacare through Congress are now realizing what they signed their constituents up for--a tax they may not be aware they have to pay and may only find out about it while filing their federal income tax. And, due to the fact the Open Enrollment period is now closed for ObamaCare health plans, constituents who aren't covered by a health plan have no way to get covered. Democrats are asking for a special enrollment period to give these people a chance to get covered.
I'm not a lawmaker, nor do I play one on TV, but wouldn't anyone reading the bill before it was a law think, maybe, this would have been a good, common sense idea to incorporate? Or even better, making the Open Enrollment period coincide with tax season? Did they think their constituents would be happy with a mandatory tax for choosing not to have healthcare insurance?
Of course, with the Affordable Care Act clocking in at nearly 1000 pages, I doubt any one member of Congress actually read the entire thing, much less could accurately articulate everything it implements. Is it too much to ask to expect our Congress critters to actually read the legislation they vote to pass into law? Are there any other unintended consequences hidden in this law that haven't yet been brought to the surface? I'm sure we'll find out, I just wish we knew before it was the law of the land.