June 24, 2009, - 12:35 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
One of the biggest problems with Congress is that it doesn’t apply the laws it makes for the rest of us, to itself. Congressmen and Senators are hypocrites. That’s a big part of why many of us support term limits. Those who make the laws need to live among us and feel what it’s like to have the laws they make applied to themselves. They need to experience the difficulties, the effects, the consequences.
Unfortunately, that’s never the case. Career politicians live their whole careers in the elite stratosphere of Capitol Hill never feeling the effects of their work on the little people.
And it’s the same with medicine. When I worked on Capitol Hill, I marveled at the great health plans that Members of Congress and Senators get (and their staff members, in most cases). When I got sick or hurt once, I got sent to a doctor’s office around the corner, and I didn’t pay a dime or have to show proof of insurance.
Not sure if that’s still the case, but our federal elected officials still have sterling silver health plans, unlike the rest of us.
The real test of Obamacare is whether these politicians wishing to impose socialized medicine on the rest of us, will do so for themselves.
Here’s how they fare now, compared with you:
Congressional lawmakers . . . paid less at the doctor’s office under their own insurance than the national average in 2008 but also shelled out up to 13% more for premiums, the studies show.
Before you read this part, keep in mind that McClellan headed the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services under Bush and his brother, Mike, was the Bush turncoat press spokesman. Under McClellan, he ignored billions of dollars of Medicaid fraud by pregnant Muslim aliens and their Muslim doctors, when it was brought to his attention. So, he was part of the problem of high medical expenses, not the solution.
Mark McClellan, a doctor and economist at the Brookings Institution, said he believes members of Congress are getting a good deal. McClellan helped develop a report for the Bipartisan Policy Center that recommends using lawmakers’ premiums as a benchmark for taxing purposes.
“It’s significantly more generous than most Americans are getting,” said McClellan, who suggests Congress could raise money for a health care overhaul by taxing premiums that exceed those included in their own plan.
Lawmakers’ health insurance, which is the same available to all federal workers, is part of the equation. Members of Congress also receive care by a physician at the Capitol for a small fee and treatment at military hospitals – the same offered to presidents and visiting dignitaries, watchdog groups say. . . .
Lawmakers choose from a range of private insurers. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management does not track how many members of Congress enroll in individual plans, but a Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred provider organization (PPO) is the most popular for all federal employees, according to the agency.
That Blue Cross plan scored well in an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. The report found the federal plan had lower deductibles and co-pays than “typical” PPOs but did not rate as well as an average health maintenance organization (HMO). . . .
A Kaiser survey found the average PPO premium for individual coverage was $4,802 in 2008. For a family, the premium was $12,937. The federal plan’s premiums were higher ($5,386) for individuals but lower ($12,335) for families, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
The government paid 69% of that premium for a family, less than the 73% average. . . .
Lawmakers can also utilize taxpayer-subsidized care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had bypass surgery at Bethesda in 2003. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., battled cancer last year with treatments received at both sites.
Pete Sepp, a spokesman with the National Taxpayers Union and an expert on benefits received by members of Congress, questioned whether those additional perks skew how lawmakers look at health care.
“It sure can’t help their perception of what the average consumer has to deal with,” he said.
Free Healthcare for Everyone! Meet Your New Doctor . . .