Crowley to Repealers: Skip Coverage

By Glen Thursh

A cadre of Democratic House members – all fierce defenders of President Obama’s health care reforms — are asking Republicans who want to repeal the law to forgo their taxpayer-subsidized health insurance out of principle.

The group, led by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and three other progressives – responding to a POLITICO report that repeal proponent Rep.-elect Andy Harris (R-Md.) complained about a lag in his federal coverage – is circulating a letter among Democrats that would call upon Republicans to ditch their insurance, paid in part by taxpayer funds, if they are committed to rolling back Democratic reforms.

The missive is expected to pick up a lot of support among liberals, who now make up a much larger proportion of House Democrats following the party’s 61-plus-seat loss earlier this month. Spearheading the effort: Crowley, Donna Edwards of Maryland, Tim Ryan of Ohio and Linda Sanchez of California.

“If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk,” Crowley writes in a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don't happen to be Members of Congress. We also want to note that in 2011, the Federal government will pay $10,503.48 of the premiums for each member of Congress with a family policy under the commonly selected Blue Cross standard plan.”

Boehner and McConnell spokesmen declined comment. And Harris defenders argue that he’s simply availing himself of the same insurance enjoyed by private employees, coverage administered by many of the nation’s private health care companies.

On Monday, POLITICO reported that Harris, an anesthesiologist with practices in Baltimore and the Eastern Shore, stood up during a freshman benefits seminar to ask why his health coverage kicked in 28 days after his official Jan. 3rd swearing-in date. Harris opposed health care reforms, arguing that they were tantamount to socialized medicine, and pressured incumbent Democrat Frank Kratovil, who voted against the reforms twice, to commit to the repeal effort.

In his letter, Crowley taunts Boehner and McConnell, demanding to know how many Republicans will ditch their government subsidy, which typically covers two-thirds of their premiums.

“It is important for the American people to know whether the members of Congress and members-elect who have called for the repeal of health insurance reform are going to stand by their opposition by opting out of the care available to them at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. We look forward to your response in the coming days about exactly how many of the members in the Republican conference will be declining their taxpayer-supported health benefits.”


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