Yesterday, responding to Rep.-elect Andy Harris’ (R-MD) hypocritical demand for government-sponsored health care benefits, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) began circulating a letter among his Democratic colleagues calling on Harris and other members of Congress who want to repeal the new health care law to forego the government health care plans they receive as Members of Congress. In a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Crowley writes, “If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should should walk that walk.”
This morning, a caller to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal asked Rep.-elect Mike Kelly (R-PA) — who “strongly opposes” the health care law — if he would be willing to give up his government-sponsored health insurance. Kelly said that he would:
KELLY: There is no reason for anybody to get anything different than anybody else. I personally have always paid for my own health care… why should my pension as a public official be any different from anyone else’s pension? Why should my health care, as a public official, be any different than anybody else’s? No, level across the board. […]
Q: So will you have a Congressional plan?
KELLY: No, I do not need. I got my own plan, I don’t need a congressional plan. I’ve taken care of myself for a long time.
The Congressional health care system — the Federal Employees’ Health Plan (FEHBP) — is very similar to the Exchanges established in the Affordable Care Act. Like federal employees, beginning in 2014, many Americans will be able to choose coverage from a series of private options competing for their business within a new health care marketplace — the state-based Exchange.
Kelly, however, will not have the choice of enrolling in an FEHBP plan by 2014 and then could have coverage that is “the same as everyone else’s.” Under a Republican amendment to the Affordable Care Act, “the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available” to Members of Congress and congressional staff are “health plans that are I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act.”
Will other Republican lawmakers wanting to repeal health care put their money where their mouth is?