As I’ve noted previously, in addition to their government-financed health insurance members of congress can take advantage of direct provision of health care services by government employees throught the Office of the Attending Physician. It turns out that hard-right congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana) is actually a big fan of this:
“Just about not a week goes by that I don’t see the House physician staff with a gurney running down the hallway to address an issue affecting an American or tourist visiting the Capitol building,” said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Columbus. “I really do have a sense that the House physician’s office is more about providing immediate services during sessions of Congress, frankly the way the emergency room of a hospital would provide for any American. They’re on site. They’re already through security.”
Pence said he has used the office for physicals and stress tests while using his regular health insurance plan for more advanced procedures such as skin cancer surgery.
Pence seems to me to have this right in terms of his personal habits. And it also seems to me that establishing a nationwide network of quality public health clinics at which ordinary citizens could receive these kind of services would be very useful. There’s an element of medicine that involves deploying cutting edge treatments, and there’s a reasonable case to be made for keeping provision of that sort of thing in private hands (note that this is compatible with single-payer health insurance as in Canada) in order to keep innovation going. But a lot of medical care is about competent application of well-understood testing & treatment regimes. This kind of thing is often done quite well by public agencies when given the opportunity, and it’s an extremely cost-effective way of helping people out.