GOP Freshman Demands: Where's My Health Care?

GOP congressman doesn't want to wait 28 days for government-subsidized health insurance to kick in

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Freshman Rep. Andy Harris won his seat by vowing to repeal the new health care law, but he's a little less cavalier about his own insurance plan. Harris may hate Obamacare, but Harris really hates that his own taxpayer-subsidized policy won't kick in for a whole month after he's sworn in to serve his first term as a Republican congressman.

The incoming Maryland representative surprised his fellow noobs at an orientation session Monday, Politico's Glenn Thrush reports, with his indignant response to learning that his health policy won't take effect till February 1, even though he'll take office January 3. Why should he go 28 days without health care? he asked. “Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” a witness told Thrush, noting that Harris’s request was rather similar to "the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine."

Harris can perhaps be forgiven, given his inexperience in the wild west of the American health care system. “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” he said.

  • This Is About Realities of Employer-Run Care, Firedoglake's David Dayen argues. The 28-day wait "is fairly standard for virtually every job I’ve ever had; in fact, it’s a little better than some which force a three-month 'trial period' before benefits kick in, or make new hires wait until the next open enrollment. That’s if your employer provides health insurance at all," Dayen writes. "Harris’ spin on this is that he was pointing out the 'inefficiency of government-run health care.' Actually, he was pointing out the inefficiency of employer-based health care. Employers have all kinds of different rules governing their health insurance coverage, and they don’t care whether or not they match up with their employees’ needs. They don’t make their coverage portable, and they don’t make it easy for employees to transition from one job to the next."
  • Being Uninsured Is Scary, Ezra Klein says at The Washington Post. "The point isn't that it's hypocritical to oppose health-care subsidies for poorer people or an individual mandate while simultaneously wanting every benefit your federal job gives you. Those positions can coexist. It's Harris's fear at being uninsured. But whatever else you think of the health-care law, it really does keep people from being uninsured." Harris supports repealing the bill in favor of the status quo or a Republican plan. Both of those options would leave a lot of people without insurance "for a lot longer than 28 days," Klein writes.
  • Who Can Blame Him? Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly. "Harris spent months condemning the idea of Americans being entitled to taxpayer-subsidized health care coverage. Now that the election's over, Harris suddenly feels entitled to taxpayer-subsidized health care coverage -- and wants it immediately. Just to clarify, I don't actually blame the far-right congressman-elect. He wants coverage for him and his family, and doesn't want to have to worry about a 28-day gap in which he, his wife, and his kids would have no protections if they get sick. I do, however, blame the far-right congressman-elect for failing to realize that millions of American families want the same peace of mind he's seeking."
  • The Microphones Are Always on in DC, Hot Air's Jazz Shaw reminds baby members of Congress. "One of the great joys for political junkies comes at this time of year. While others hit the malls to shop for bargains, we get to look forward to a huge class of congressional freshman, just off the bus from Podunk, U.S.A, arriving in Washington and finding out that the potential landmines don’t stop once the votes have all been counted. ... Until the new members finish figuring out where the bathrooms are, it’s probably best to keep in mind the old maxim which tells us, 'a closed mouth gathers no foot.'"
  • Merely Freshmen, The Verve Pipe ruefully wrote in 1992. "For the life of me I cannot remember/ What made us think that we were wise and we'd never compromise/ For the life of me I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins/ We were merely freshmen."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.