As if Republicans didn't have enough to dislike about President Barack Obama's health care law, a new Associated Press report states that a glitch in the health care law could mean that several million middle-class people could get nearly free insurance meant for the poor.
As a result of the anomaly, up to 3 million more people - the glitch chiefly affecting early retirees making around $64,000 a year - could qualify for Medicaid in 2014. The reason is because most of their Social Security benefit would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility.
And for Medicare and Medcaid Services Chief Actuary Richard Foster the new twist has cost him some sleep.
I don't generally comment on the pros and cons of policy, but that just doesn't make sense, Foster said during a question-and-answer session at a recent professional society meeting.
This is a situation that got no attention at all. And even now, as I raise the issue with various policymakers, people are not rushing to say ... we need to do something about this, Foster said.
Administration officials and senior Democratic lawmakers say it's not a loophole, but rather an effort to simplify the rules for deciding who will get help with insurance costs under the new health care law. The simplification of rules will result in one national policy, instead of the numerous rules under which it currently abides.
The simplification will stop people from falling into coverage gaps and may cause some to be newly eligible for Medicaid and others to no longer qualify, said Brian Cook, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
But Republicans have been fighting for a rollback of federal requirements that block states from limiting eligibility; states have been begging for relief from Medicaid costs, saying that these kinds of federal rules increase spending while decreasing state options.
Medicaid is the health insurance safety net program serving more than 50 million Americans, from low-income children and pregnant women to Alzheimer's patients in nursing homes.