ANDY HARRIS MUST WAIT NO MORE…. Members of Congress enjoy an attractive benefits package, including extensive health care options and taxpayer-subsidized insurance. They just don’t get it right away.
You may recall that shortly after the midterm elections, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.),who ran on a platform of staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act, demanded to know at an orientation session why he couldn’t get his government-subsidized health care right away. Told he’d have to wait about a month after being sworn in, Harris asked if a public option would be available to help cover the gap.
Good news, congressman. As of yesterday, the wait is over.
Government-subsidized health insurance — one of many perks of serving in Congress — kicked in on Tuesday for new members.
But a group of more than a dozen freshman Republicans who campaigned vigorously on overturning President Obama’s new health care law will be opting out.
Whether in direct protest of the health care overhaul, which House Republicans voted unanimously to repeal two weeks ago, or in an attempt to retain their Washington-outsider patina, about 15 members declined coverage through the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Plan, which covers eight million federal employees and their dependents.
I guess there’s something to be said for ideological consistency. There’s a very large group of far-right lawmakers who want to take away your benefits and protections, while taking advantage of generous benefits that you help pay for. A small contingent within this group at least has the decency to turn down taxpayer-subsidized insurance while trying to make things harder for American families.
But that still leaves an enormous group of Republican members of Congress who remain comfortable with the contradiction. Harris is a fun example, but my personal favorite is Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who also ran while railing against health care reform, but who balked at the idea of giving up government-subsidized health care for himself.
“What am I, not supposed to have health care?” Grimm said last month. “It’s practicality. I’m not going to become a burden for the state because I don’t have health care, and God forbid I get into an accident and I can’t afford the operation. That can happen to anyone.”
Grimm soon after voted to take away health care for millions of people, blissfully unaware of how many of them might be tempted to ask, “What am I, not supposed to have health care?”