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Why won't Congress enroll in gov't health care?

Posted By Chelsea Schilling On 07/23/2009 @ 12:15 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

If government-run health care is such a great idea, why won’t members of Congress enroll their own families?

The question has been on the minds of many Americans, but Democrats aren’t giving answers. Instead, they are exempting themselves from their own health care “reform.”

The Affordable Health Choices Act drafted by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s staff and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee pushes “Americans into stingy insurance plans with tight, HMO-style controls,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

At the same time, Page 114 of the act specifically exempts members of Congress from the public plan.

The bill mandates that all other Americans enroll in “qualified” health plans and submit proof of enrollment to the government.

Everyone must report “the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each individual who is covered under health insurance that is qualifying coverage” and include the “number of months during the calendar year during which each such individual was covered under such health insurance,” along with “such other information as the Secretary may prescribe.”

Under his plan for health “reform,” President Obama has promised Americans that citizens will have the same health care options members of Congress receive. During his presidential campaign, he told an audience in Canton, Ohio, in October 2008: “If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll be able to get the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress give themselves.”

At a news conference June 23, Obama said people will be able to choose their insurance “the same way that federal employees do, same way that members of Congress do.”

According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, “Federal employees, retirees and their survivors enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country. You can choose from among Consumer-Driven and High Deductible plans that offer catastrophic risk protection with higher deductibles, health savings/reimbursable accounts and lower premiums, or Fee-for-Service (FFS) plans, and their Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) if you live (or sometimes if you work) within the area serviced by the plan.”

Mark McClellan, a doctor and economist at the Brookings Institution, told USA Today he believes Congress gets a great deal when it comes to health care options.

“It’s significantly more generous than most Americans are getting,” said McClellan.
According to the report, members of Congress also receive medical care from a Capitol doctor for a small charge and my get treatment at military hospitals – the same medical care offered to presidents and visiting dignitaries.

“They get what bureaucrats get – plus,” said Steve Ellis with Taxpayers for Common Sense.

In a June 24 ABC News health care forum anchored from the White House by Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, pointed out that members of Congress may propose government health care solutions for the American public that limit medical care options.

Meanwhile, he explained that lawmakers know that if their own family gets sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it’s not provided by insurance.

The following is a video of the discussion:


Rep. John Fleming

He asked President Obama if he wouldn’t seek outside care for his wife or daughters if they became ill and his public plan limited treatment and tests.

Devinsky asked:

If your wife or your daughter became seriously ill, and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they were doing everything that could reasonably be done, and you sought out opinions from some medical leaders in major centers and they said there’s another option you should pursue, but it was not covered in the plan, would you potentially sacrifice the health of your family for the greater good of insuring millions or would you do everything you possibly could as a father and husband to get the best health care and outcome for your family?

The president would not pledge not to seek outside care, though he said, “I think families all across America are going through decisions like that all the time. And, you’re absolutely right that if it’s my family member, if it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.

“There’s a whole bunch of care that’s being provided that every study, that every bit of evidence that we have indicates may not be making us healthier,” he said.

But Rep. John Fleming, R-La., a physician, asks if public health care is such a great idea, why don’t members of Congress who vote for it actually sign up their own families?

He has offered H. Res. 615 with 53 Republican co-sponsors, which states:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that members who vote in favor of the establishment of a public, federal government run health insurance option are urged to forgo their right to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and agree to enroll under that public option.

Fleming said that under both the House and Senate proposals, members of Congress won’t have to participate in the government plan for at least five years – and even after five years, enrollment will still be considered optional. Meanwhile, every other American will be forced to comply with government rules by obtaining “qualifying” plans.

Fleming told Fox News, “All these health care bills that are coming out on the Democrats’ side – the ‘reform’ bills – basically say that Congress is exempt for at least the first five years, and perhaps longer,” he said. “I’ve issued H. Res. 615 that simply says, look, if you vote for this, then you should choose it.”

He continued, “We’ve reached out to every Democrat in the House, and we have yet to have a taker. They want it for every American – except for members of Congress.”

Fleming’s bill has been referred to the House Committee on House Administration.

On July 16, Rep. Dean Heller, R.-Nev., offered a similar amendment to H.R. 3200 during the House Ways and Means Committee markup that would require members of Congress to enroll in its own government-run health care program. Democrats defeated the amendment by a vote of 21 to 18.

Concerned individuals may contact their respective senators and representatives.

 


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