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

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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