House Republicans have pledged to repeal and/or defund the health care law. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) even adopted the effort as her sole “motivation in life.” But, for at least 16 GOP lawmakers, the reality of the party’s position is coming home to roost. These Republicans, “many of whom were swept into office fueled by tea party anger over the health care law,” are now facing the same expensive, unforgiving health insurance market as middle-class Americans the GOP wantonly abandoned:
“I have a niece who has pre-existing conditions, and I worry about her if she was ever to lose her job,” said Florida Rep. Richard Nugent, one of the freshman lawmakers who declined federal health insurance benefits.
Every single House Republican voted to repeal the health care law last month.
“I can simply, honestly say that this is going to impact my wife and I to a fairly serious degree, like it would any average American out there,” said first-time Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.
Walsh’s wife has a pre-existing condition and will need a procedure in the coming months, but because he declined federal benefits, they’re paying for it out of pocket. Meanwhile, Walsh is contributing to a health savings account to cover his expenses.
“It’s a cost we will feel, a cost I will have to pick up. I won’t turn down benefits because I have something to fall back on or because I’m independently wealthy,” he said.
But while recognizing that “there are 14 some million Americans and growing who are out there in the individual market who have a much tougher battle” than him, Walsh voted with every GOP House member to repeal the law that helps. And while they willingly deny millions of Americans, none see any reason to deny their staffs the taxpayer-funded benefit.
GOP lawmakers have struggled to explain why they deserve government-subsidized health care while ordinary Americans don’t. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) said he accepted federal health care because he was “actually lowering” premiums for older lawmakers. When asked whether he’d turn down taxpayer benefits, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) actually said, “I don’t know. Am I a federal employee?” And Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) offered a more blunt — and revealing — response: “What am I not supposed to have health care?…God forbid I get into an accident and can’t afford the operation. That can happen to anyone.”