Newly-elected Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA) campaigned for Congress on a promise to repeal health reform. This week, Hurt granted ThinkProgress a short interview outside of the Capitol, where he doubled down on his pledge to remove health reform. However, Hurt said he would not opt-out of the government health care granted to him and his staff as a member of Congress:
HURT: I’ll support the repeal. Okay, what else?
TP: After you vote to repeal health care, will you also reject government-sponsored, government-subsidized health care given to members of Congress?
HURT: Uhm, well obviously we’ve got — I’ve got a health insurance policy that I pay for through the government so I don’t really —
TP: Well there’s $700 a month in taxpayer money on average that goes to a member of Congress’s health care plan given by you know the taxpayer.
HURT: It’s a policy that’s issued by Anthem and it’s a policy that any — it’s open to the public.
TP: But my tax dollars and everyone’s tax dollars subsidize your plan as a member of Congress. And all of your staff members. You’ve got what, thirty members of your staff? Do you think they should have government-sponsored health care if you’re going to repeal it for everyone else?
HURT: If you’re going to pay members of Congress anything, if they’re going to have a salary and they’re going to have benefits, like so many people who are employed do, then I think it’s not unreasonable to offer those benefits. So I support that.
Hurt tried to initially deny that he received any special health care and that his plan is available to the public. In fact, the regulated private insurance that Hurt and his staff receive is not open to the general public because the general public does not have access to a regulate exchange or to taxpayer subsidies.
Members of Congress on average receive a $700 a month taxpayer subsidy for their private health insurance plan, which they can choose through a highly regulated exchange offered by the government. The federal system mirrors the reforms enacted by Democrats and President Obama, which end health insurance abuses by regulating coverage through an exchange, while offering subsidies to individuals and small businesses to make coverage more affordable.