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Posted at 3:11 PM ET, 01/19/2011

More House GOPers giving up their insurance

By Greg Sargent

Looks like we've got another House GOPer who has decided to forgo the health insurance members of Congress enjoy -- because he says members of Congress should not support laws they don't want applied to themselves. From The Daily Courier of Arizona:

New U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar says he won't sign up his family for federal health insurance since he wants to dismantle the landmark health care legislation the previous Congress created.

Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist, said members of Congress should not vote for laws they don't want for themselves, and vice versa.

"I'm keeping my own private (health insurance) plan," he said.

Dems, of course, have been demanding Republicans give up their insurance, in order to tar GOPers who favor repeal with the hypocrisy charge. But at this point, it should be noted that a surprising amount of House Republicans have now endorsed the idea by agreeing to do it themselves.

Among them are Bobby Shilling, Mike Kelly, Joe Walsh, Daniel Webster, Sandy Adams, Frank Guinta, David McKinley, and Bill Johnson.

Don't be surprised if Dems begin to call them the "Consistency Caucus."

In all seriousness, this is one of those ideas that seemed like it would never gain any traction. But now it has gained a bit, mostly because of the national attention that resulted from that now-legendary episode where a House GOPer complained that it would take a month for his benefits to kick in.

There are now a total of nine House GOPers who have agreed to forego their insurance. That isn't much, to be sure, and Republican leaders have dismissed the whole idea as a silly stunt, arguing that it's perfectly proper for members of Congress are being given insurance by their "employer." But as more Republicans agree to forego their insurance, expect Dems to flog each example relentlessly, in order to put pressure on other GOPers to do the same, particularly in the wake of the vote to repeal reform today.

By Greg Sargent  | January 19, 2011; 3:11 PM ET
Categories:  Health reform, House Dems, House GOPers  
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Next: Dem Rep says GOP health care rhetoric worthy of Goebbels

Comments

Not quite the same as going uninsured...

Posted by: JkR- | January 19, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Greg,

They are members of congress, so of course The Insurance Cabal is going to make sure that their families would never get dropped, like millions of poor sick Americans will be again, should the Republican Assault Upon Medical Assistance(TRAUMA) succeed.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"Expect Dems to flog each example relentlessly."

And expect more folks to label the Dem party as "the silly party."

"Republicans never said that government employees--which is what U.S. congressmen and senators are--should not receive health care coverage from their employer... The fact that many Democrats and a few Republicans do not understand this distinction does not mean all Republicans are hypocrites."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/democratic-lawmakers-should-forego-tax-cuts_526655.html

Posted by: sbj3 | January 19, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

All of them (Republicans) who are in favor of the Health Care law repeal should be forced out of the Federal, congressonal plan...period.

Posted by: fairness3 | January 19, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Poor SBJ. He is as thick as brick.

Greg posted the statement from The Republican Congressman.

"Congress should not support laws they don't want applied to themselves. From The Daily Courier of Arizona:

New U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar says he won't sign up his family for federal health insurance since he wants to dismantle the landmark health care legislation the previous Congress created.

Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist, said members of Congress should not vote for laws they don't want for themselves, and vice versa.

"I'm keeping my own private (health insurance) plan," he said."

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

sbj3-

I mostly agree with you that demanding people to give up their Congressional health insurance is silly.

However, the inartful/deceptive condemnation of "government healthcare" opened the door for this political stunt by the Democrats.

Bot the demands and the statement that led to the demands just reinforce the belief that these politicians are more interested in headlines and applause than they are in intelligently and honestly debating the myriad of issues involved.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 19, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Um, Liam? ACA did not set up "Federal health insurance" for government employees. "Dismantling" ACA won't get rid of health insurance for government employees.

Got it?

Posted by: sbj3 | January 19, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

SBJ,

The Republican Tea Party Congressman from Arizona already refuted you point. He admits that Congress members receive Government subsidized health care coverage.

SBJ,

Tell us again that Magical Thinking fable about how you are A Libertarian? We need a good laugh.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

@ashot: We agree.

Thank goodness Plum Line readers (with some exceptions?) are smart enough to figure this out.

All's fair in love and war and politics and this is just typical politics. It's surprising (well, maybe not) that nine members of the GOP are dumb enough to fall for this.

It would be truly sad if these fellows were foregoing their employer-provided health insurance (even though they knew it was not hypocritical to take advantage) merely to appease their uninformed constituents.

Posted by: sbj3 | January 19, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

OT but I've been thinking.....yeah I know dangerous.

Since the Tea Party was an attempt to re-brand the damaged GOP party name, and now the Tea-Party its self is dropping like a rock in favorability, I guess that makes their big branding effort bunk

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 19, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Mike,

Tea Bags always taste horrible, when reused.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

It's surprising (well, maybe not) that nine members of the GOP are dumb enough to fall for this.
-------------------------------------------

Yeah, I don't get the motive for them doing this. Most people that would be upset at the allegedly hypocritical act of taking government insurance would probably be democrats and unlikely to vote for them. I can't imagine this move is helping get them many votes.

Although if 9 Congressman/women are dumb enough to fall for this, there are probably far more voters who are, too.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 19, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Or perhaps they are not enrolling in their government health care because they have plans available to them with far greater benefits and they are fooling all of us into believing they have some altruistic or other beneficient motive.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 19, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

How about we make it simple for these GOP prima donnas. Keep the healthcare you have that is paid by the rest of us, and offer every citizen who wants it, the same plan that you partake in as a govt employee?
Any of you Right Wingers here have a problem with that?

Posted by: filmnoia | January 19, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The Anti-Government Members Of The Government Should Not Be Denied Big Government Benefits, while they work to Drown Government In A Bathtub.
.........................

The Judean People's front would appreciate the stance taken by our Resident Faux Libertarian.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

@sbj

Well as happens every now and then we are in agreement. I second ashotinthedark.

This is absurd on both sides of the aisle.
I agree with ashot that this is mere political grandstanding by both sides..the Dems for provoking it and the TPers for taking the bait.

Congresscritters are Federal Employees. Part of the benefit package for them is "employer" provided Health insurance. It has NOTHING to do with the ACA!!!!

If we expect them to give up that portion of their benefits package why stop there...personally I'm not as angry about their insurance as I am about ALL THE FREAKING TIME OFF THEY GET!!! I'd love their vacation package...to me that's a little over the top...I'm sure they would make a compelling case however that any extra time we may view is actually compensatory time for all of those times they work outside the office...remember Cong Giffords frequently held SEVEN of those Corner Congress meetings a day!!!!

If we believe that the taxpayer is "subsidizing" Congresscritter health care...what about their salaries...where does that money come from?

This is DC at it's absolute worst on BOTH sides. This is not only meaningless symbolism and not a genuine issue...as SBJ and ashotinthedark point out it's not even appropriate symbolism.

Shame on both sides of the aisle.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 19, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Most of the polls are crafted by very liberal leaning organizations. The bias is obvious. Here's the real deal:

The only poll that is foolproof is the voting booth. Remember the SHELLACKING the Obamacrats took?? Of course you do!

Almost all Republicans were anti-Obamacare and most promised to work FOR REPEAL of Obamacare. They were ANTI-Obamacare.

Obamacrats got slaughtered from coast to coast not only at the federal level but at the state and local level as well.

Most Americans want repeal. Just ask the thousands of junior Obamacrats now looking for work.

Posted by: battleground51 | January 19, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

ruk, would there be "shame" in Boehner paying for his own booze?

http://www.factcheck.org/2010/03/pelosis-party-plane/

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

rukidding writes
"personally I'm not as angry about their insurance as I am about ALL THE FREAKING TIME OFF THEY GET!!! I'd love their vacation package."

The excuse is that time when Congress is 'recessed' is not necessarily 'time off'. They will claim that it is time spent at home, with constituents, which often means it is time spent campaigning or fundraising.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 19, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

1. I doubt any of these guys or their families are seriously sick.

2. Don't these guys oppose the government interference in the market? Shouldn't they let their old coverage lapse so that they have a break in coverage, and then go and try to get health insurance like a proper individual on his own in a marketplace does?

3. What's with this COBRA nonsense? That's a government regulation that drives up costs, isn't it? Why are they using it?

Posted by: theorajones1 | January 19, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

This is not as impressive as it sounds: The ABA, AMA, etc. provide insurance to their members. In other words doctors are treated as a group for insurance purposes, and thus they get covered. They are NOT getting personal insurance, which is the only option available to most.

A group such as the ABA, AMA, etc. can shield its members from the grossest abuses by the insurance companies. For example:

If you have a pre-existing condition, at least in VA you must be 'covered' by a company for 2 years before they cover your preexisting condition, if you get personal insurance. If you go in through a group that requirement magically goes away.

So, admirable though the consistency of that 3% or so is, it is not impressive.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | January 19, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Or perhaps they are not enrolling in their government health care because they have plans available to them with far greater benefits and they are fooling all of us into believing they have some altruistic or other beneficient motive.

Posted by: pragmaticagain
-------------------------------------------

The same thought entered my mind. Maybe their family doctor doesn't take the new insurance and they figure they can score a few political points while doing something they were going to do all along.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 19, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Let's see nine out of about 230 Republican reps. That means just under 4% of the Republican caucus are not hypocrites. Sounds about right.

(Very wealthy not hypocrites, mind you).

Posted by: willows1 | January 19, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

What do people think of this comment which Claw The Birther posted twice?

"RainForestRising, if Giffords trashes Palin, then it's possible that she is the Antichrist (head wound, came back from death, etc.)

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 3:00 PM
.........................

RainForestRising, if Giffords trashes Palin, then it's possible that she is the Antichrist (head wound, came back from death, etc.)

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 3:16 PM

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"What do people think of this comment which Claw The Birther posted twice?"

I think it proves he didn't receive enough attention as a child.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | January 19, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I think it should only have been posted once.

What do people think about what Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said on the floor of the House last night?

http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/01/abc-news-jonathan-karl-reports-the-newfound-civility-didnt-last-long-political-rhetoric-in-congress-doesnt-get-much.html

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Clawrence,
There is no mention anywhere in that article about Boehner. Did I just miss it, or did you mean Hastert?

Wrong is wrong. Doesn't matter who it is. Shame on factcheck for trying to deflect attention from Pelosi by dragging the previous speaker into this. He shouldn't have been doing it either, but that doesn't excuse Pelosi's drunken flights on our dime.

Posted by: Bailers | January 19, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe their family doctor doesn't take the new insurance" -- Or insurance at all.

These guys are (probably) wealthy and boutique medical practices are increasing in popularity. Why deal with insurance or Medicare at all if you can build a book of business with clients who pay you on retainer? Drop your patient load and guarantee access to those willing and able to pony up the monthly/annual fee. It's just the next tier in the system. It has to be better from the view of the physician than watching Congress punt on a long-term SGR fix year after year.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 19, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Claw-

I think most posters here have made it pretty clear that comparisons to Nazi's, by anybody, is a non-starter.

You are apparently fine with calling people the ant-christ though. Both seem...shall we say...hyperbolic, counterproductive and out of line.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 19, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I have a mnemonic, GINNV, for remembering graphically just how many Americans would have zero health care if the people-killing health bill repeal were to actually work. The equivalent of every man and woman and child in Georgia, Indiana, North Dakota, North Carolina, Virginia would have zero health coverage.

In addition to going without health coverage (the real test re hypocrisy), local, state, and federal elected officials should live on minimum wage and take public transit one week of each month they hold office -- Undercover Legislator, you might say. (And no hoarding your Wild Turkey for the Famine Week -- there would be random audits.)

Posted by: wendyf | January 19, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Bailers, I meant Boehner (in my question to ruk; I am not suggesting that Boehner shouldn't buy his own booze ; )

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

To compound the demeaning level of the statement, made by Clawrence, that maybe congress woman Giffords is the Anti-Christ; she happens to be Jewish American.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I have NEVER called anyone the "ant-christ"!

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

NoVa-
"Drop your patient load and guarantee access to those willing and able to pony up the monthly/annual fee. It's just the next tier in the system. It has to be better from the view of the physician than watching Congress punt on a long-term SGR fix year after year."
--------------------------------------

I'm sure that is possible in a few affluent communities, but for most non-primary care doctors government and private payers pay just fine.

In our fee-for-service system cutting payment can be countered by increasing the number of services provided thus rendering the pay cut moot. It's why we need to change the reimbursement system not just the reimbursement amount.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 19, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I have NEVER called anyone the "ant-christ"!

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 4:49 PM |

.............................


"RainForestRising, if Giffords trashes Palin, then it's possible that she is the Antichrist (head wound, came back from death, etc.)

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 3:00 PM
.........................

RainForestRising, if Giffords trashes Palin, then it's possible that she is the Antichrist (head wound, came back from death, etc.)

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 3:16 PM

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

9? whoop-di-do!
would someone please check that those nine are all paying for their own insurance and not using election funds or having some corporation pay for it!

Posted by: newagent99 | January 19, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Liam-

I think claw was making an effort to be witty. My post left out the "i" in anti-christ.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 19, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

"It's why we need to change the reimbursement system not just the reimbursement amount."

And that's the rub. Primary care docs and specialists don't agree on how to do about it. Specialists are loathe to embrace pay-for-performance or quality-incentive systems, even with risk adjustments because their patients tend to have worse outcomes. It's much simpler to design a pay-for-performance system that rewards a primary care doc who controls his patients' sugar levels. Different animal when you're talking to cardiologists dealing with sicker patients with co-morbidities.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 19, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

A silly stunt?

The Republican leadership would certainly know all about that.

Posted by: BlueSquareState | January 19, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, you can make book on the fact, that The Insurance Industry know who's side those nine are on, and will make sure to never drop their families from coverage, unlike all the many millions of poor sick Americans that they have, and would again, drop from coverage, in order to fatten up the bottom line.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

And that's the rub. Primary care docs and specialists don't agree on how to do about it. Specialists are loathe to embrace pay-for-performance or quality-incentive systems, even with risk adjustments because their patients tend to have worse outcomes. It's much simpler to design a pay-for-performance system that rewards a primary care doc who controls his patients' sugar levels. Different animal when you're talking to cardiologists dealing with sicker patients with co-morbidities
------------------------------------

Well put. There was an interesting article in Health Affairs this month, directed at private payers but applicable to all, that proposed adopting different payment systems for primary care and specialist.

The problem is that there is so much money made in the current system, I'm not sure there is enough energy to change it. Although if doctors start seeing their income drop from some of the new reform efforts, ACOs, value based purchasing, bundling etc. they may come around to the idea.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 19, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

@ashot and novahockey

"In our fee-for-service system cutting payment can be countered by increasing the number of services provided thus rendering the pay cut moot. It's why we need to change the reimbursement system not just the reimbursement amount."

Amen...and funny you should bring up cardiologists novahockey...my brother in law a cardiologist and two of his friends left a practice because of two new foreign docs who joined and were out for the $$$$$
How did this manifest itself in their cardiology practice.

Frequently cardiologists can get plenty of information on your condition from a simple stress test...relatively inexpensive as well...but the only sure way is to do a cardiac cath a surgical procedure worth a LOT more to the cardiologist than a simple stress test.
My brother in law and his friends were appalled at the incredible increase in Cardiac caths versus stress tests by these two new docs. Big $$$

Another horrible problem with the current system...who pays for what equipment and is it really necessary. One example was a group of Urologists on the Ill/Ia border.
They averaged a certain # of MRI's for diagnosis every month. It was a pretty consistent number of patients they referred every month for an MRI for diagnosis. Suddenly in the span of about three months that number skyrocketed. Care to guess why? The Urology group had just purchased THEIR OWN MRI machine and needed to pay for it and turn a profit.

This form of reimbursement represents a huge conflict of interest for our medical practitioners.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 19, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Only the professional conflict-of-interest crowd on the left applaud the ObamaCare monstrosity with death panels to kick in by administrative law while the country is looking the other direction gradually, step-by-step, as the Czars and Cass Sunstein moles are doing and as Barry does almost daily by Executive Fiat.

The biggest poll in the new decade took place in November and by around 55% at the VERY LEAST, Americans want to repeal the 2000-page monstrosity Botox Nan foisted on the Republic Xmas Eve.

Posted by: djman1141 | January 19, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

After reading the comments, you have to remember that if the Demonrats didn't have a double standard, they'd have no standards at all. They call for congresscritters to abjure their Congressional gold-plated health plan. When some do, their motives are impugned and their good faith put into question.

When did these hypocrats ever do this to the Demonrats who voted the ACA ObamaCare debacle into law knowing they'd never have to submit to its onerous, absurd conditions? What a collection of freaks and liars, and Cong. Cohen of TN is their spiritual mentor.

Posted by: djman1141 | January 19, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Many primary care MDs have invested in diagnostic centers, and when ever they refer patients for scans, etc, it improves the health of their own bottom lines.

The same applies for how thick they are with Drug sales reps. They get a lot of perks from those people, to push prescriptions for their products on to their patients.

My sister just turned eighty, and she has become really pissed off with her Doctor, because she has a habit of trying to switch my sister off of cheaper prescriptions, and on to very expense new ones, which claim to do the exact same thing, as the cheaper brands, or generic ones. My sister is on Medicare, but she still fights to keep the Doctor from running up the Drug bills.

It is a very incestuous relationship between Primary care MDs, and Drug Reps.

Of course TV ads for prescription drugs should be banned. They increase sales of the products, which only goes to show that Doctors will often prescribe what the patients/hypochondriacs ask for.

Imagine that: The TV ads say; Ask your Doctor, so we end up with the damn TV ads actually causing the prescriptions to be written, instead of the medical findings of the professionals who diagnose the problems.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Every congress member who voted to repeal the health care bill, must have relentless pressure applied to them, on an ongoing basis, to make them stop receiving government subsidized health care insurance coverage.

Force every one of those hypocrites to now Walk The Talk.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have been complaining about how terrible a government sponsored health care program would be for us Americans...yet they , themselves, participate and enjoy one of the most generous taxpayer funded health care programs there are.
All Americans should have the same benefits that are available to Republican congressmen.

If they are going to call themselves "servants" then why should the "boss" get anything less.

Posted by: naksuthin | January 19, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Our US Health Care system is BROKEN

I just came back from Thailand where I got a complete physical: Blood work, EKG, CAVI test, Upper and Lower abdominal ultrasound, chest Xray, Cardio Stress Test, Urinalysis, Stool Examination...all for $400!!!
Just the Stress Test alone would have cost $3000-$4000 in the US!!

Americans are getting ripped off by the medical profession and the sad part about it is that they are blissfully ignorant about how expensive their "free market" health care system is. i've even heard some people say our American system is the best in the world. It may be the most expensive but all you have to do is visit a hospital in Thailand to know something is woefully missing in the US

Another thing about Thailand is hospitals post their costs for everything from hospital room rates to a colonoscopy to heart bypass surgery so you can shop and compare the cost at different hospitals.

You won't ever find a price list by any doctor or hospital in the US. It's all very secret. You can't compare or shop for better rates. The US medical profession doesn't want any comparison shopping...or advertising prices. That would force doctors and hospitals to start compete with other providers on price and that would be bad for the profits of the medical profession.

Another reason why I've been going to Thailand for the past 6 years is that it has a public health care system that is free for everyone and a private system that provides better service and more options if you are willing to pay for it. The private option is still much much cheaper than in the US because the public option forces it to be competitive in order to woo patients.

Two years ago I had a condition called Esophageal dysphagia. The throat doctor in my hometown in California said he could fix the problem for $2500 in his OFFICE. So I went to a Thai PUBLIC HOSPITAL in Bangkok (Chulalonkorn Hospital ....used my US passport as ID) and had the procedure done for $100 (one hundred)...including the doctor and the anesthesiologist and a biopsy!!!!

Posted by: naksuthin | January 19, 2011 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Not quite understanding Congressman Gosar's statement

Members of Congress can elect to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and pay the same premiums and co-pays applicable to their plan as 2.7 million other federal employees do. For an additional fee, Members of Congress can receive health care services from the Office of the Attending Physician in the U.S. Capitol. Members may also purchase care from the military hospitals using their FEHBP benefit

There is not really a "gold-plated" health benefit plan.

Posted by: PALADIN7E | January 20, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

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