Facing a deadline of next Tuesday to sign up for health insurance coverage under the Obama health law, lawmakers in Congress are sounding much like many Americans in search of a health policy, with some running into hurdles, others navigating the internet signup process just fine and getting health insurance for their families.
In other words, people working in the same place, using the same computer system and the same internet signup portal, are ending up with totally different outcomes.
“Just yesterday, I logged into the D.C. exchange where members of Congress must go, and got an error,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) at a Wednesday morning hearing.
But a little while later, there was a photo on Twitter of Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), signing up for coverage via the internet and the D.C. exchange.
“After shopping for health insurance for my family and me, today I enrolled and bought our insurance plan through the public DC health exchange.,” Perlmutter proudly reported.
A few minutes after that story surfaced, it was a much different report back across the political aisle from another Republican in the Congress.
“The Obamacare site crashed three times while I was trying to sign up this afternoon,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN).
“I’ve tried to do that several times and all I get is error messages,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), who also couldn’t get through the D.C. exchange.
But back over in Blue State lawmaker territory, there was success for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), as a spokesman said Nelson “actually bought a policy today via the exchange.”
“It’s a conspiracy,” joked one of my Twitter followers. “Only Democrat Congressmen can get Obamacare coverage.”
Not every member of Congress has to sign up through the exchanges – some already have health coverage through a spouse, Medicare or other plans – and there are others who just don’t buy the health insurance offered to lawmakers and other federal employees.
Before Thanksgiving, House Speaker John Boehner tried to sign up for insurance, but ran into error messages as well. That was quickly fixed after officials from the D.C. exchange scrambled to help.
We’ll see in coming days how well other members of the House and Senate do when it comes to signing up for health coverage.