Congressional gravy train: Gold-plated health care


So your congressman votes against allowing the federal government to negotiate with Big Pharma for lower prescription drug prices for seniors. And so he advocates health savings accounts, which are great if you’re young and healthy but a ticket to bankruptcy if you’re older or have a chronic disease. And so he opposes any movement towards a single-payer system, which would cut billions from wasteful administration costs, drug and insurance industry profits, and fat-cat CEO pay.

What does he get, aside from the political payoffs (a.k.a. “campaign contributions”), for his efforts?

He gets one of the best universal health plans in the country, of course, and we — the taxpayers — get to pick up the tab!

But don’t take it from me. Take it from Smart Money, which says this:

Congressmen love tinkering with our health care. They virtually created the managed-care industry, for instance, with the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973, which tilted the playing field in favor of HMOs, ultimately stripping many Americans of all other choices. Meanwhile, congressmen enjoy more than a dozen options, including the prized indemnity plans only 3% of workers with coverage receive. On top of that, for an annual fee of $480, they can get just about all the medical attention they want at the Capitol Office of the Attending Physician, which has five doctors and a dozen assistants on call for routine checkups, tests, prescriptions, emergency care and mental health services. Who’s making up the difference? Taxpayers, naturally, to the tune of at least $2.5 million this year alone.
What happens once a congressman is out of office? He needn’t fret: Just five years into the job, he’s entitled to keep his regular health coverage until he’s ready for Medicare. And he doesn’t have to pay extra, as you do for Cobra, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which he voted for in 1996. [Emphasis mine.]

So the next time a congressman gives you a line of bull about health savings accounts or bandaid solutions to high drug costs like allowing Americans to buy their medications from Canada; or if he tries to convince you that it’s necessary to cut Medicare benefits to balance the federal budget, ask him: “Congressman, tell me about your health care plan. That’s the one I want to be on.”

See what kind of verbal dance he does to get around that one.