This week, the Office of Personnel Management purported to find a solution to the problem of congressional staff losing their generous health insurance benefits because of an ineptly worded provision of ObamaCare. The problem is real, but that doesn’t make the solution legal. As Edmund Haislmaier writes, “the federal government doesn’t actually have legal authority to pay for health coverage for federal workers in a plan that is not one of the plans contracted for by OPM under Title 5 Chapter 89 of the U.S. Code—which authorizes OPM to operate the [Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan].”
OPM, explains Haislmaier, is essentially pretending the law doesn’t say what it says:
According to OPM, anything that meets the general definition of a health plan is now also “a health benefit plan under this chapter” for which the federal government can pay the FEHBP subsidy for a federal employee—even if it is not a plan that OPM “contracted for” or “approved” in FEHBP, and even if it is an “individual” plan and not a “group” plan as required by the statutory definition that OPM relies on.
It was bad enough that Congress had to pass the law to find out what was in it. Now, the Administration is ignoring the law when they don’t like what they find. [The Foundry, August 7]