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The New York Times reveals the next embarrassing mistake with the Democrats' drafting of the health care bill:

It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves. [...]

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

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One of the most important and most controversial parts of the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amendment by the reconciliation bill, is that it requires all U.S. residents to have insurance or pay a tax penalty. This is known as the "individual mandate," and although it is a Republican idea that has a long history of bipartisanship, both conservatives and progressives have recently focused their criticisms of the law on it.

In reality, it's quite nuanced. The idea of the law is that it will control costs and provide enough government assistance that insurance will be affordable for everyone and that the individual mandate penalty will not have to be used. It will give out billions in "affordability credits" and it includes an economic hardship exemption so that people who can't reasonably afford insurance under the new law won't have to pay the tax. Here's a detailed rundown of how the affordability and individual mandate provisions would work, including, to the extent possible, how much money people will be expected to pay for insurance under the new law.

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Shortly after the health care bill was signed into law last week, it became clear that someone, either the Democrats in Congress or President Obama, had messed up. Obama had been saying publicly that the bill would immediately ban insurance companies from denying children with pre-existing conditions from buying new insurance plans. But what the bill actually did was ban insurers from denying certain services for children with pre-existing conditions who are already insured.

To fix the situation, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she would issuing regulations that would apply Obama's interpretation over the letter of the law, but it was unclear whether insurers would follow regulations that go beyond what had been passed by Congress and signed into law. Today, the health insurers announced that they will voluntarily go beyond the letter of the law and immediately stop denying children with pre-existing conditions from getting new insurance plans.

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