One of the first orders of business in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is a move to repeal the landmark health care reform law that was passed last March. However, following Rep. Andy Harris’s (R-MD) infamous rant about the delay in his congressional health care coverage, the media is beginning to question whether the GOP is hypocritical for decrying the specter of “government-run health care,” yet accepting government-sponsored health care plans for themselves.
For instance, yesterday, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) justified accepting government-subsidized health care for himself because, “God forbid I get into an accident and I can’t afford the operation…That can happen to anyone.” In an interview with ThinkProgress, Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA) said that he supported congressmen receiving government-sponsored health coverage because “it’s not unreasonable to offer those benefits.” Seven Republican congressmen, however, are trying to remain consistent by opting out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan.
This week, ThinkProgress caught up with Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) to ask whether he would be joining his colleagues in rejecting government-sponsored health care for himself, given his push to repeal health care reform for the nation. Schock told us the “only” reason he would stay on the congressional health care plan because he was “a 27-year-old single male” who was “actually lowering” the premiums of his older colleagues. He also brushed off the notion that this was hypocritical on his part, calling them “completely separate issues,” despite the numerous similarities including taxpayer subsidies and a highly-regulated exchange:
SCHOCK: It is, yeah. I had Blue Cross Blue Shield when I came here as a 27-year-old single male. I paid about $80 a month. And now, because I’m in a risk pool with a bunch of older seniors, my health care costs me $170 a month now for the same Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage. So I think it’s kind of interesting how people make such a big deal out of the health care coverage we have, which is not bad by any means. But I haven’t given it much thought because quite frankly I think I’m helping out the institution by lowering the risk pool for some of my older guys.
TP: I just know there are a lot of people who have made the hypocrisy charge, that there’s an average of $700 per month in taxpayer subsidies on these employee government health care plans, yet saying that the general public is not getting the same types of subsidies and help in buying health insurance for themselves.
SCHOCK: No, I get that argument. The only thing I would submit is because I’m an outlier in the group, I’m actually lowering the…(crosstalk)…When you’re under 30 in a body of…but, so.
TP2: Sir, you receive taxpayer subsidies even though you do have a lower rate. And you’re within a pool that’s highly regulated, as health reform does for the rest of the nation. Don’t you think it’s fair if you’re going to repeal health reform for everyone else, you should at least reject this subsidized, highly-regulated plan that members of Congress and their staff benefit from?
SCHOCK: No, I really actually think they’re completely separate issues.
TP2: Why’s that?
SCHOCK: Because I don’t think what we do with the health care bill has anything to do with what kind of health insurance programs members of Congress pay for.
TP2: No, it’s quite similar. There’s an exchange, there’s subsidies, just like you benefit from an exchange and subsidies, that are paid for by taxpayers.
SCHOCK: Well, I think the bill we voted on is completely different.