Pelosi Prediction Backfires? Glitches Arise in Health Law

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Back in March 2010, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif,, uttered the now-famous words, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy." Pelosi was talking about the health care law, and it appears she was right about the fact that it was full of unknowns.

It turns out that, due to a glitch in the law, roughly three million middle-income Americans could wind up on Medicaid - which was designed to assist the country's poorest citizens.

"It's gonna cost about $450 billion over 10 years," Senator John Barrasso. R-Wyo., who is also a surgeon, warns. Barrasso says it's yet another burden for average Americans. "Who's gonna pay for that - the taxpayers, people who are paying their bills every day," he says.

Democrats acknowledge there is a problem within the health care law that could have an unintended impact on Medicaid.

"I do think that between now and 2014, sooner rather than later, we should go back and take another look at this," Congressman Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Wednesday. Van Hollen also admitted that the potential snafu was discussed while the health care law was being drafted. It stems from a problem about how the word "income" is defined under the law now - and how that definition is set to change.

Richard S. Foster, Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says it's a worry that keeps him up at night. "We need to do something about this," he said.

The Obama administration, via a blog, concedes there is trouble. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Richard Sorian wrote, "We are concerned that ... some middle-income Americans may be receiving coverage through Medicaid, which is meant to serve only the neediest Americans." As for what HHS plans to do, Sorian says, "We are exploring options to address this issue."

The issue of millions of additional Medicaid participants was hardly the only health care headache for the administration on Wednesday. Several House GOP lawmakers went public with their demand to know more about who has - and hasn't - been granted a waiver from the law's requirements - and why. Led by Congressman Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., the group sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on June 2. Today - they announced they have yet to receive a response.

"If Obamacare is so good, if it is so good, why all the waivers?" Huelskamp asked. He also lamented the administration's "lack of transparency."

On Friday the administration announced that no more waivers will be considered after September 22. That promise made no difference to Congressman Joe Walsh, R-Ill., who said, "Regular folks around the country are still going to be stuck ... because they don't have the power or influence to get an exemption."