Another glitch in the Affordable Care Act—the kind of drafting error that occurs often in massive legislation and would be easily fixed if we had a functional Congress—has exposed another rift for Republicans. In the scramble to complete the legislation, church-sponsored health plans were not included among the "qualified health plans" that could participate on the exchanges and receive tax credits and apply the subsidies that make health insurance more affordable. That's because these plans aren't available to the general public, only to church employees.
Religious institutions have been lobbying for a fix, and that's where the problem comes in for Republicans: answer to a key constituency and fix the law that they hate, or continue hating the law and fighting for full repeal. So far, they seem to be lining up behind the latter.
Months of outreach to Republican Senate offices by religious leaders have yielded no official GOP support to an appeal from a broad coalition of religious denominations to ensure that church-sponsored health plans can participate in the ACA’s health insurance exchanges. Worse yet, from a partisan Republican point of view, two Democratic senators, Mark Pryor and Chris Coons, were the first responders to this call, introducing legislation late last week. Pryor is widely viewed as the GOP’s number one senatorial target in 2014. [...]
Religious groups have sought this fix since at least 2011, and several sources say that at least half a dozen Republican Senate offices have been approached for their support, including Sens. Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander and Dan Coats, but so far to no avail. Emails and calls by the Washington Monthly to Sen. Rubio’s and Alexander’s offices were not returned.
Among the religious institutions lobbying for the fix—the Southern Baptist Convention, which informed its clergy of the issue at its annual meeting last week, and will be joining the lobbying effort behind the Pryor/Coons bill. So the GOP is going to be under increasing pressure to figure this one out: do the right thing by an important constituency and actually make government and Obamacare work, or keep the crazies happy and let the religious right lump it.