Some of the highlights:
"I've offered a bill, HR 615, to give them a chance to put their 'health' where their mouth is: My resolution urges members of Congress who vote for this legislation to lead by example and enroll themselves in the public plan that their bill would create.
"The current draft of the Democratic bill curiously exempts members of Congress from the government-run health care option: The people's representatives would get to keep their existing health plans and services on Capitol Hill -- even though the people wouldn't.
"If members of Congress believe so strongly that government-run health care is the best solution for hardworking American families, I think it only fitting that Americans see them lead the way....
"Congress has the bad habit of exempting itself from the problems it inflicts on the American people. From common workplace protections to transparency and accountability measures, lawmakers always seem to place themselves and their staffs just out of reach of the laws they create.
"Americans don't know that there is an attending physician on call exclusively for members of Congress, or that Congress enjoys VIP access and admission to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center.
"It is past time that we make the men and women making the laws be exposed to the same consequences as the American public."I don't know enough about health care to feel that I've gotten my arms around exactly what's needed. I've heard both pro and con arguments concerning the current bill, but I haven't delved into the details enough to really have a feel for it myself. To really have a handle on it, you'd have to study exactly where the money goes, who profits, and how. What kind of cut do the insurance companies get? How well run are the HMO's? Exactly how much fraud there is in Medicare and Medicaid, and how do we get rid of it? How could we cut down on the nuisance malpractice suits which drive the doctors' own premiums up? Exactly why have health care costs outpaced inflation by so much? Then in order to have an informed opinion on the current bill you'd have to read all six hundred pages and figure out whether it has the answers to the above questions, and many others, such as exactly what sort of care we'd be paying for for illegal aliens. (Think any members of Congress have read all six hundred pages?)
I suspect that most people with strong opinions both for and against don't really know either. The people whose opinions I tend to trust on other political matters seem to be against the new plan, but again, I just don't know.
My general sense is that the plan would require the haves to fund health care for the have nots. This, of course, would be in keeping with virtually every other policy espoused by Obama (with the exception of his coddling of the very rich at places like Goldman Sachs). I suppose using the words "haves" and "have nots" puts a liberal spin on the topic. A conservative would say, or at least think, "responsible, hard-working people with good health habits" and "free riders."
I've heard the stories about the English and Canadian systems, and how people from those countries who want quality medical care have to come over here if they don't want months long waits and a government official deciding whether they merit more care. Do those stories accurately typify those systems?
I just don't know.
But if the plan does pass, the Congressmen who are so sure that the new plan will not result in reduced care, or long waiting periods, or less choice, should enroll themselves. If they did so, it would certainly give the American people a measure of confidence in a government-sponsored health plan. But to pass the bill while insisting on a higher standard of medical care for themselves is hypocrisy.
There are, of course, a myriad of other ways in which Congress has exempted itself from the laws which they've passed to govern the rest of us. The Freedom of Information Act does not apply to them. And they have exempted themselves from a myriad of employment discrimination and civil rights laws.
I pay $647 a month to AETNA for my family's health insurance, and get practically nothing in return. I suspect I'm paying for a whole lot of Medicaid fraud, insurance executives' perks, malpractice premiums, and the medical bills of a lot of people with unhealthy personal habits. I might conceivably be better off with a cheaper public option. I just don't know.
The one thing I am sure off is that if this bill passes, I want members of Congress along for the ride.