Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Congress may get fined by its own health-care law
Congress may be fined tens of millions of dollars a year under its own health-care law, in part because the bill dumps members of Congress and their staffs from their current health-care plans.
But no one really knows for sure what the bill does, not even the experts. For instance, exactly who qualifies as an “employer” — and therefore is subject to fines up to $3,000 per employee — is undefined in the bill.
If Congress were subject to a $3,000 fine for each of its employees, it would need to shell out approximately $50 million each year to Uncle Sam. Congress’s research arm, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), informally confirmed the possibility to Republican aides.
Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s top health-care cabinet official, will be responsible for establishing most of the details of how the law is implemented. Many Republicans who have raised the issue of Congress’s fining itself believe Sebelius likely will exempt Congress with a regulation narrowly defining “employer,” for instance.
Still, the possibility of the fines, and the uncertainty surrounding them, are drawing heckles from the health-care law’s critics.