Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Ask any House Republican about repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law, and you’ll get the same fiery, self-assured talking points about tearing down what Speaker John Boehner has called a "monstrosity."

But talk to some of the 16 freshman lawmakers who have declined their government health benefits, and you’ll hear a different side of the story — about tough out-of-pocket expenses, pre-existing conditions and support for health reforms that would help those who struggle with their coverage. As they venture into the free market for health insurance, these lawmakers — many of whom swept into office fueled by tea party anger over the health care law — are facing monthly premiums of $1,200 and fears of double-digit rate hikes.

The experience has caused some of them to think harder about the "replace" part of the "repeal and replace" mantra the GOP has adopted regarding the health care law.

"I have a niece who has pre-existing conditions, and I worry about her if she was ever to lose her job," said Florida Rep. Richard Nugent, one of the freshman lawmakers who declined federal health insurance benefits.

Maryland Rep. Andy Harris caused an uproar during freshman orientation when he demanded to know how long it would take for his federal health insurance policy to kick in. Since then, the question of whether lawmakers who ran against the health law should accept their own government benefits has become a favorite game of partisan ping-pong in Washington. Democrats are demanding that the lawmakers who voted to deny reform benefits to the American public turn down their own federal employee health insurance, and Republicans have argued that accepting benefits from the government is not inconsistent with GOP support for employer-based coverage


Baxter said...

Good cn'p, Terry.

There are some interesting possibilities with healthcare reform this year. Senate moderates are trying to craft a bill that would remove the individual mandate and (I assume) reimpose today's hardship's on those who choose to opt out. Polls suggest that 60%+ of Americans would support this. But would Republicans support such a "fix" if it eliminates any possibility of SCOTUS tossing out "Obamacare"?

How would it look if the Democrats propose legislation removing the mandate, only to have the Republicans kill it? Wouldn't this move independents back towards the Obama camp?

Does the GOP really want to bank on SCOTUS activism? Personally, I do not see Kennedy voting to overturn the law. In fact, I do not think it is a given that the conservatives would shoot down the legislation. Congress clearly has the constitutional power to tax, which is the form of the mandate.

Like Terry said, the beat goes on.

Mark R. said...

You need to read the opinion written by Judge Vinson. After you read this very well written opinion you will have a lot less confidence in Judge Kennedy.

Baxter said...

I have already read the opinion - in part - and I am not moved. It is an outlier - inconsistent with other rulings including the VA opinion that also overturned the mandate. Far more judges have ruled in favor of Obamacare or refused to even hear the case.

Judge Vinson made some comments in his opinion that were clearly political, not legal. I do not see it as a basis for SCOTUS declaring the law unconstitutional.