Last week, responding to Rep.-elect Andy Harris’ (R-MD) hypocritical demand for government-sponsored 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 forgo their own government health care plans. So far just two incoming Republican freshmen — Rep.-elect Mike Kelly (PA) and Rep.-elect Bobby Schilling (IL) — have agreed. But a new Public Policy Polling survey has found that most Americans “think incoming Congressmen who campaigned against the health care bill should put their money where their mouth is and decline government provided health care now that they’re in office”:
Only 33% think they should accept the health care they get for being a member of Congress while 53% think they should decline it and 15% have no opinion.
Democrats are actually the most supportive of anti-health care Congressmen taking their health care, with 40% saying they should accept it to 46% who think they should decline. But Republicans and independents- who put these folks in office in the first place- strongly think they should refuse their government provided health care. GOP voters hold that sentiment by a 58/28 margin and indys do 56/27.
The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein estimated that Republicans could save the federal government $2.4 million if they forgo health care for a year. New members have 60 days (after being sworn-in) to select an insurance plan from the federal health insurance exchange, which will become available on the first day of the following month. Returning members can opt-out of the government-sponsored health insurance coverage until the end of the open-enrollment period, December 13th. The Wonk Room has more on why not opting out would be a betrayal of Republican candidates’ pledges to “listen to the people who sent us,” and on the scheme of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), a reform proponent, to make the GOP lawmakers put up or shut up on repeal.