Thursday, November 18, 2010

Joe Crowley Has a Little Fun at Republicans' Expense

By David Freedlander

Yesterday, Politico reported that newly-elected Maryland congressman Andy Harris, who campaigned on a promise to repeal the new health care law, threw a fit at the freshman orientation session when he discovered that it would take a month for his Congressional, government-sponsored health care to kick in.

Quotes Politico:

"'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.'"

Today, Queens Congressman Joe Crowley is having a little fun at Harris' expense, and sent a letter to his Democratic colleague asking them to ask their GOP colleagues to go without coverage, what with the creeping socialist menace and all.

Like the health coverage provided to members of Congress, the system set up by the Affordable Care Act will allow Americans to choose the plan that works best for them from a variety of private insurance plans. The uninsured, small-business employees, and the self-employed will be able to benefit from choice and competition, just like we do. Unfortunately, Republicans, like the one mentioned in Politico, are happy to receive care that is paid for, in part, with taxpayer funds, but do not want to extend a similar benefit to hard-working, under- or uninsured Americans. For this reason, we hope you will join us in sending the below letter to Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative John Boehner. It asks them to survey the Republican Conference to find out which of their members will forgo the employer-subsidized Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage before trying to make it harder for others to obtain affordable coverage.

Full letter to Senator McConnell and soon-to-be Speaker Boehner below:

Dear Senator McConnell and Representative Boehner:

We were surprised to read in Tuesday's article "GOP frosh: Where's My Health Care?" in Politico that some of your incoming members are unhappy with the health benefits they are eligible to purchase under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) - particularly the fact that there is a delay before benefits take effect. Ironically, this is the same predicament millions of Americans currently find themselves in.

It is amazing that your members would complain about not having health care coverage for a few weeks, even after campaigning to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which will help provide coverage to millions of Americans who find themselves without health insurance for months or even years.

We also find it interesting that members of the Republican conference would have no problem taking away health coverage from hard-working Americans, but expect expanded coverage for themselves and their families. The system set up by the Affordable Care Act will allow Americans to choose the plan that works best for them from a variety of private insurance plans, just like the FEHB program that members of Congress are now able to access. The uninsured, small-business employees, and the self-employed will now be able to benefit from this same choice and competition.

It begs the question: how many members of the Republican conference will forgo the employer-subsidized FEHBP coverage and experience what so many Americans find themselves forced to face? If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk. 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. We also want to note that in 2011, the Federal government will pay $10,503.48 of the premiums for each member of Congress with a family policy under the commonly-selected Blue Cross standard plan.

It is important for the American people to know whether the members of Congress and members-elect who have called for the repeal of health insurance reform are going to stand by their opposition by opting out of the care available to them at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. We look forward to your response in the coming days about exactly how many of the members in the Republican conference will be declining their taxpayer-supported health benefits.