Progressive Democratic legislators are crying foul at recent reports that GOP Congressman-elect Andy Harris (R-Md.) complained about the limitations of his congressional health care plan, unveiling a new letter asking such health care reform naysayers to forfeit their own federally provided insurance coverage.
"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," a letter to GOP leaders signed by Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and provided to Politico reads. "If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk."
Politico reported Tuesday that Harris, a supporter of Republicans' "repeal the bill" efforts, had piped up during a recent freshman orientation session to decry the nearly one-month waiting period between his swearing in and the commencing of his health care coverage. In his subsequent effort to find a solution to this problem, he asked if he couldn't purchase temporary government-provided insurance to tide over the lapse in coverage, a proposal that rings of the "public option," a failed addendum to the health care reform package that had been demonized by Harris himself.
"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," the Democrats wrote in their letter. "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."
So far, no word from the letter's recipients, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). For now, it looks like they'll hold on to their taxpayer-subsidized health care coverage, while working to halt, or at least stall, the implementation of the Democratic health care reform package.