GOP House Member Says He Doesn’t Need To Opt Out Of Congressional Health Plan Because He’s On Medicare

Last night, during a debate on the GOP’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act with Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell asked Roe if he would be following the example of some of his colleagues and opt out of his own government-sponsored health care insurance. Roe responded that he is not enrolled in the Congressional health care plan, called the FEHBP, since he receives coverage through Medicare, another government-run program:

O`DONNELL: Congressman Roe, would you be delighted to vote for repeal of the congressional health care plan? And do you participate and use the government-run congressional health care plan for you and your family?

ROE: I do. And it`s the only option I had. Let me also mention about —

O`DONNELL: Oh, it`s not the only option you have. You can opt-out of it and you can buy your own private insurance. It`s not mandatory for you to take it.

ROE: Well, Lawrence, which I did until I got here. Now, I`m on Medicare. ….

O`DONNELL: So, Congressman, we can just pause for a second. Can we just pause for a second? You are on the pure government-run health care plan called Medicare, which you are pleased with?

ROE: Was that we think a public option is a good idea until you reach the age of 65, and then you have no public option. I mean, you have — the only things you have is a public option. You don`t have a private alternative. And you can`t go out and buy your own insurance. I would argue —

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As Alex Seitz-Wald observed in December, of the eighty-plus incoming Republican congressmen, all of whom ran campaigns railing against the Affordable Care Act, and the hundreds of incumbent GOP lawmakers, ThinkProgress has been able to identify only five who are willing to put their money where their mouth is and turn down government health care for themselves. This translates to just 2 percent of the 242 GOP House members of the 112th Congress. Moreover, those who have turned down their congressional health plans are either covered by other government programs, such as veterans benefits, or are wealthy, like Walsh, and can afford to pay for their own coverage.