GOP pressured to forgo fed health coverage

Nov. 24, 2010 at 1:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- New congressional Republicans who ran against U.S. healthcare reform should decline government-provided coverage in office, a Public Policy poll indicated.

Results of the Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday indicated 53 percent of respondents think incoming members of Congress who campaigned for the repeal of the healthcare reform law should not accept government-provided health coverage, while 33 percent said they thought they should.

Two GOP Reps.-elect -- Bobby Schilling of Illinois and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, who oppose the law -- pledged to refuse government-backed health insurance when they come to Washington in 2011, The Hill reported.

Healthcare coverage for congressional members and their staffs is through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan.

A spokesman for Speaker-apparent Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he doesn't see any hypocrisy in Republicans accepting congressional health coverage.

Boehner "like Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Reid and tens of millions of Americans, receives health coverage through his employer. That has nothing to do with 'Obamacare,' which will wreck Americans' healthcare and bankrupt our country," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.

Democrats beg to differ, The Hill said. Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., sent a letter to GOP leaders signed by 60 Democrats Tuesday, arguing that critics of a government-backed coverage expansion should "walk that walk" by refusing their federally subsidized coverage.

"If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable healthcare, your members should walk that walk," Crowley wrote in a letter to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don't happen to be members of Congress."

Public Policy Polling surveyed 707 voters from Saturday and Sunday. The margin of error is 3.7 percentage points.

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