October 25, 2009

From Think Progress: Rep. Weiner Identifies 55 Republicans On Medicare Who ‘Steadfastly Oppose’ The Public Option

Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) office today released an internal study showing that 151 members of Congress “currently receive government-funded; government-administered single-payer health care — Medicare.” Of those 151 members, 55 are Republicans who also happen to be “steadfastly opposed [to] other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen.” Included on Weiner’s list are anti-public option crusaders Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

Rep. Weiner talked explained why his office released that study on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.

WEINER: Well it’s more kind of another way of looking at this debate, this discussion about the public option, to put it in focus. We went, just out of curiosity, looked at how many members of Congress get the public option. And I know a lot of people have said, “Well under the new bill, how many of you members of Congress would choose the public option?”

Well there already is one; it’s called Medicare. And we found that 55 Republicans and 151 members of Congress are on Medicare right now. So they’re already getting the same type of public option that we’d like people who are without insurance to be able to get. And I guess the purpose of this list was to kind of point out some of the hypocrisy of this debate.

You have members of Congress thumping their chest how they’re against government health care, against government control of health care, socialized medicine and yet when it’s time for them to accept Medicare, they’re like, ‘Sign me up!’

And part of what I’ve argued in arguing for a single-payer system is that when we have Medicare for those that are 65, why not 64? Why not 24, like, you’re about 24 right?


Weiner: And why not have that type of a system that has lower overhead, lower costs and you don’t have to deal with the 30% of profits and overhead that insurance companies take. So we compiled this list largely to point a bright light on some of the hypocrisy of this debate, but also I hope it gets people thinking—if Medicare is good enough for 151 members of Congress, why shouldn’t a program like it be created for those who want to go out and buy insurance?

I actually did get to hear this live on C-SPAN radio the other day and didn't get a chance to get back to it sooner. I was glad to see Think Progress picked it up. I would have liked for Rep. Weiner to have taken this a bit further and ask if those members of Congress would care to give up their Medicare—since they think that having government administered health insurance is such a terrible thing. I would guess the answer is "No".

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