Republican lawmakers who oppose the Democrats’ health reforms should give up their taxpayer-subsidized health insurance and pay for their own coverage, say a group of progressive House Democrats.
In a letter to soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Democrats urged Republicans to stick to their principles opposing government-run health care and give up their own congressional health care plan.
“You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don’t happen to be Members of Congress,” wrote Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY). “If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk.”
Crowley’s letter was signed by three other Democrats: Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA). Politico’s Glenn Thrush, who first reported on the letter, describes them as “fierce defenders of President Obama’s health care reforms.”
The Democrats say their letter is a response to freshman Rep.-elect Andy Harris of Maryland, a freshman who ran on an anti-health reform platform but on Monday reportedly complained that his health benefits would only kick in a month after he began working on the Hill. Politico reported:
Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.
“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.
“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.
Zaid Jilani at ThinkProgress reports that one Republican congressman has actually decided to do exactly what the Democratic foursome wants: He’s forgoing his congressional health plan.
“I’m not taking the pensions, I’m not taking pay raises and my family and I are bringing our own health care to Washington, DC,” Rep.-elect Bobby Shilling (R-IL) told ABC News. “Congress shouldn’t have anything better than the American people.”