Why Congress’ healthcare plan isn’t like the public option

Posted by: ST on September 30, 2009 at 9:17 pm

ABC News has published a report on the healthcare coverage perks members of Congress receive that most Americans do not:

This fall while members of Congress toil in the U.S. Capitol, working to decide how or even whether to reform the country’s health care system, one floor below them an elaborate Navy medical clinic — described by those who have seen it as something akin to a modern community hospital — will be standing by, on-call and ready to provide Congress with some of the country’s best and most efficient government-run health care.

Formally called the Office of the Attending Physician, the clinic — and at least six satellite offices it supports — bills its mission as one of emergency preparedness and public health. Each day, it stands ready to handle medical emergencies, biological attacks and the occasional fainting tourist visiting Capitol Hill.

Officially, the office acknowledges these types of services, including providing physicals to Capitol police officers and offering flu shots to congressional staffers. But what is rarely discussed outside the halls of Congress is the office’s other role — providing a wealth of primary care medical services to senators, representatives and Supreme Court justices.

Through interviews with former employees and members of Congress, as well as extensive document searches, ABC News has learned new details about the services offered by the Office of Attending Physician to members of Congress over the past few years, from regular visits by a consulting chiropractor to on-site physical therapy.

The article goes on and on about the apparent excellent quality of care Congressional reps receive as part of their healthcare plan, and after reading it you can understand why Democrats who are pushing so strongly for the “public option” part of ObamaCare have said they would not drop their coverage and jump onto the public option, even though they routinely claim that the public option would not compromise “quality of care.” Uh huh.

Also implicit in the article is the suggestion that, if this government-run healthcare coverage works so well for members of Congress, well then Congress should damn well pass the public option in the OCare bill so work-a-day Americans who can’t get healthcare through traditional means (via work or with a private plan) will have the option to get a similar style of healthcare (we’ll just overlook for the moment that signing up for some type of healthcare coverage, OCare or not, really would not be optional if Senate Dems have their way – unless you were willing to pay thousands of dollars in fines for opting out of “affordable” healthcare coverage…). In fact, the implicit suggestion from this article that Congress better pass a public option considering they already have their own ‘public option’ was so strong that liberal proponents of socialized medicine fell for it. Liberal Matthew Yglesias grumbled:

What’s noteworthy here isn’t just the existence of the perk, it’s the specific form. Congress could have voted itself higher salaries. Or better travel benefits. Or larger appropriations so the congressional cafeterias can serve better food. But or just more generous health insurance. But what they wanted here was socialized medicine—health care that’s not only financed by the state but directly provided by government employees. This kind of state-provided health care is basically universal in the UK, it accounts for an important chunk of the health care in Sweden, and it’s what we give to our veterans in the United States. But most members of congress claim regard it as a horrifying prospect. And yet in practice they appear to like it just fine.

Um – um, not quite, sez Cassandra:

As the Reality Based Community LOVE to remind us, we are all entitled to our own opinions but we are not entitled to our own facts. The health insurance enjoyed by Congress is NOTHING like that provided to veterans – nor, indeed, does it even vaguely resemble either bill currently before the House or Senate, let alone the universal health care offered in the U.K. But aside from those “minor” details, Yglesias is… still full of it. Congress gets:

* a choice of 10 healthcare plans that provide access to a national network of doctors

* as well as several HMOs that serve each member’s home state.

* Lawmakers also get special treatment at Washington’s federal medical facilities

* and, for a few hundred dollars a month, access to their own pharmacy and doctors, nurses and medical technicians standing by in an office conveniently located between the House and Senate chambers.

In addition to that blistering response, she links up to this detailed NRO piece which flattens 21 claims President Obama made about his healthcare “reform” plan in his speech before Congress earlier this month. Make sure to read the article in full.

Related: Surprise: Senators turn back ID requirement for immigrant healthcare

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9 Responses to “Why Congress’ healthcare plan isn’t like the public option”


  1. MarkJ says:

    One of these things is not like the others,
    One of these things just doesn’t belong,
    Can you tell which thing is not like the others
    By the time I finish my song?

    Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
    Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong?
    If you guessed this one is not like the others,
    Then you’re absolutely…right!

  2. Carlos says:

    Not long ago I heard a conservative friend say he might reconsider his opposition to ObamaCare if it was the same as the package of options, prices and care given to Congress.

    My question to him was, “Why? Does that make it any less a government intrusion into American lives where government has absolutely no authority to intrude?”

    I have no problem with congresscritters getting an insurance package. Lots of employees nationwide do. The problem I have with it is that they are the ones who decide the package choices, costs, etc., instead of their bosses (we, the people), so I kinda figure it’s almost like another area where they’re stealing from the taxpayers.

    But, like everything else to do with Joe Citizen, they really don’t give a rusty rip what we who foot their extravagance think.

  3. camojack says:

    “Um – um, not quite, sez Cassandra

    Uh-huh…and as I said at her blog:

    One of the Republicans in Congrefs proposed an amendment that would have required Members to be covered by the Public Option plan if they approve it for private citizens.

    “Predictably, however, the Heller amendment was defeated, with all 21 committee Democrats voting against it. That vote is indicative of the reality that any bill requiring Congress to be covered by the same health care as the public has the proverbial snow ball in Hades’ chances of being enacted.”

    No takers. No surprise…

  4. Kate says:

    Oh, so the public option is just for the “public”….private citizens…but, if you happen to be one of the lucky elected or their staff, or any part of the government (even a custodian at the White House) you have options and still will after the “public option” is rammed down our throats.

    One more reason for term limits and getting them all on board to pay into social security and medicare, too.

    You can go to the government workers website and see all the great options they have…..why not just take that model and let all the rest of America have access to it? Of course, you will have to get over the sticker shock…I don’t think our employers could afford it. But we employ these guys and we should damn well have the final say in what they get, not them. Does anyone else see something intrinsically wrong about that?

    But as we all know this is not about health care this is about socialism. That’s not so hard to understand.

  5. Always Right says:

    In the old Soviet Union the elite had special stores to shop in with more and better products. They drank a better grade of vodka, drove better cars and even had a special lane on the highway that no one else could drive on.
    The further left a society moves, the more isolated and elevated the elite political class becomes. Politicians, Democrat and Republican, are mostly egotistical, otherwise they would make an honest living. If we let them, they will eventually set themselves up as a royal class.

  6. Carlos says:

    In a practical way, those who do government welfare work (which covers most government workers from local to national) are already in an elite class because (since they make such a voting block) politicians are bent on keeping them very happy with perks and pay, all at the expense of those of us who have productive jobs in society.

  7. camojack says:

    How’s come my 3:36 AM comment re-posted at 6:01 AM, sans links? I know for a fact that I was riding my Harley out through one of the security gates at the Military-Industrial Complex™ at that time… :-/

  8. Not sure, camo. Just noticed that. Maybe you have a ghost writer? ;)

  9. camo, just figured it out. It’s a new way spammers are trying to get their spam posted. They somehow ‘assume’ the identity of the person who made the comment, but change the link section the commenter fills out with a spam site. I usually catch that but didn’t catch this one. It was in the spam folder, and I assumed one of your comments had gotten stuck in it by mistake so I released it.