As ThinkProgress has noted, despite spending the past year and a half railing against government healthcare, just five Republican members of the 112th Congress have been willing to forgo their own government healthcare coverage, which is provided to them as federal employees. Rep.-elect Joe Walsh (R-IL) is one of those Republicans who will opt out of his congressional health package, even though his wife will have difficulty finding coverage due to her pre-existing condition (that is, until portions of President Obama’s health care law barring insurers from discriminating against people with such conditions take affect in 2014).
Asked tonight about Walsh’s suggestion that it’s hypocritical for GOP congressmen fighting Obama’s health law to keep their own government coverage, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) didn’t seem to disagree. King told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he gives Walsh “a lot of credit for standing on principle,” even though King himself won’t forgo his government coverage:
BLITZER: [H]e thinks to accept the federal government’s health insurance program would be hypocritical, do you accept the federal government’s health insurance program for yourself
KING: Well, I’m on it now, like other federal employees are —
BLITZER: Will you stay on it?
KING: I don’t intend to pull off of it, but I give Joe a lot of credit for that. I went to Joe to help him in the campaign and I give him a lot of credit for standing on principle.
Walsh explained his decision by saying, “My wife and I now are going to have to go through the struggles that a lot of Americans go through, trying to find insurance in the individual market and having to deal with problems of preexisting conditions.” As of 2008, 12 percent of King’s constituents lacked coverage. Apparently King doesn’t think he should have to face the same struggles as them.