Taxpayer financed health care for me, not for thee

At a town-hall event in his home district the other day, Rep. Rob Woodall (R) of Georgia argued with surprising candor that Medicare shouldn’t exist. The new question is, why does Woodall want taxpayer-subsidized health care for himself, but not for his constituents?

At the event, a local voter noted that her former employer doesn’t make health care benefits available to retired employees. Her congressman said he doesn’t care. “Hear yourself, ma’am. Hear yourself,” Woodall told the woman. “You want the government to take care of you, because your employer decided not to take care of you. My question is, ‘When do I decide I’m going to take care of me?'”

At the same gathering, when another constituent suggested the GOP plan for vouchers may be inadequate in covering growing health care costs, Woodall suggested she leave the United States and go to another industrialized country.

As it turns out, Woodall was also asked about his own commitment to self-reliance. If he practices what he preaches, shouldn’t he forgo government-subsidized health care, too?

“I have a question about taking care of you. You have government subsidized health care, but you are not obligated to take that if you don’t want to. Why aren’t you going out on the fee market in the state where you’re a resident and buy your own health care? Be an example,” said a constituent in the new video.

“Your question is,” Woodall responded, “my government’s willing to give me lots and lots of stuff for free and why don’t I take it?” […]

But his constituent presses him further. “Answer the question: Why haven’t you gone out and got it?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought I did. It’s because it’s free. It’s because it’s free,” he said. “The same reason I went out to Walgreen’s and bought ActivOn and I don’t have any arthritis pain: Because it’s free. Folks, if you give people things for free, don’t blame them for taking them.”

Of course, no one is blaming Woodall for taking advantage of taxpayer financed health care for him and his family. Rather, he’s getting blamed for taking advantage of taxpayer financed health care for him and his family while trying to deny those same benefits to everyone else’s family.

For that matter, it’s not “free.” We all help pay for Woodall’s health care coverage. If thinks that’s a good model, he should reevaluate his position on health care policy. If he thinks that’s a bad model, he should introduce legislation to end members of Congress’ role in the federal health plan.

This comes up from time to time, and I always find it amazing. My personal favorite is Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who based his campaign on attacking 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 earlier this year. “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, like Woodall, 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?”

Neither of them stopped to ask, “When do I decide I’m going to take care of me?”