Last night, Politico’s Glenn Thrush reported on a curious incident in which Representative-elect Andy Harris (R-MD), a Republican freshman elected to Congress on his promise to repeal President Obama’s health care reform law and resist “government-run or government-mandated insurance”, “surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.” “He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” Thrush reports. “’Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,’ added the aide [who witnessed the encounter], who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.”
This morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough — himself a former GOP congressman — teased Harris for “bitching about not getting his government-run health care for a month”:
SCARBOROUGH: Seriously? If you had to talk about that, go whisper to the House administrator. And by the way, I think he’s a doctor? He says, ‘what do I do?’ COBRA, it’s called COBRA, for three weeks. You’ll get over it, dude. I mean, come’n man! Can you believe that?
‘No, the federal government should not be in charge of our health care? No, it’s socialism when the federal government is in charge of our health care! My hair is on fire! Oh, oh, oh, oh!’
Where is my government run health care? Seriously? So I guess he was against government-run health care before he was for it. Or maybe he’s just saying that Congressmen should have it, but working-class people shouldn’t? I’m so confused!
On his campaign website, Harris explains, “[a]s a physician, I know that our health insurance system is in need of repair. However, the answer to the ever-rising cost of insurance is not the expansion of government-run or government-mandated insurance but, instead, common-sense market based solutions that ensure decisions are made by patients and their doctors.”
During an event at the Cecil County Patriots Candidate Forum in February 2010, Harris claimed “there is no constitutionality mandated role for the federal government in health care,” and criticized Medicare and Medicaid. Turning his attention to the health care reform legislation then moving through Congress, he described the public option as “a terrible idea,” adding, “you can’t have government-run health care, it’s just not right.” In July of 2009, Harris also appeared on Fox Business and warned viewers that if health reform passes, “we’ll look like Canada and England.” “Americans are not going to tolerate a bureaucrat making a decision for their families medicare care,” he said.
Ironically, in an interview with a local FOX affiliate just days before the election, Harris accused his opponent — incumbent Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD), who voted against the Affordable Care Act — of being “for it before he was against it, before he was for it, before he was against it.”