Andy Harris wants health insurance from the federal government? I'm shocked! This is the same Andy Harris, a Republican, who just won a seat to Congress from Maryland after signing a pledge to repeal the landmark health-care overhaul pushed by President Barack Obama and the Democrats. He thinks it's a vast conspiracy to socialize medicine.
Same guy, right?
So what's he doing asking questions about a federal, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance plan at a private orientation meeting for freshmen?
In fact, what's he doing even attending such a meeting?
He should have boycotted it.
If he's so keen on repealing what he and others ridicule as "Obamacare," then he must feel no one should be forced into getting health insurance coverage. So, now that he's about to enter federal employ, he shouldn't feel forced to take part in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
Resist all temptation, Andy! The serpent is afoot!
It would be hypocritical of Andy Harris or any other Obamacare-bashing right-winger to take any health insurance that taxpayers subsidize.
Besides, the guy's a doctor, right?
He's an anesthesiologist ("Hello, I'm Andy Harris, and I'm here to put you to sleep"), and those guys make sweet salaries, and I assume they have sweet insurance plans already. That's one of the facts of life of the United States: Health insurance is not a right, it's a privilege, and the privileged don't worry too much about it.
Andy Harris has insurance through the Johns Hopkins medical system.
The Hopkins insurance plan allows coverage to start on a new employee's first day on the job. The federal system doesn't allow that. You have to wait a month or so. According to Politico.com, Andy Harris was incredulous about that during freshman orientation. Soon word got out that this Obamacare-bashing right-winger was asking questions about his taxpayer-subsidized benefits — whining that they didn't start right away.
What a doofus. He missed a golden opportunity to take a stand on principle. He could have announced he wasn't taking taxpayer-subsidized health insurance because he didn't believe in such things, picked up his welcome bag and walked out of the meeting. That would have won him admiration instead of the charges of hypocrisy that followed.
"I have insurance, and I have the ability to have insurance," Dr. Harris told a Baltimore TV station. "But for anyone else who gets a job — and again, the irony that the federal government would go to the American people and our employers and say you have to provide insurance — and yet our federal employees get hired, and if they don't get hired on the right day of the month, they actually have to go without health care for a while."
Who knew Andy Harris even cared about such things?
Here's a guy who believes in the free market for health care, that employers should not be required to offer plans and that workers should not be required to sign up for them. And yet he has the gall to not only partake of the federal plan that he's entitled to as a new member of Congress, but to complain that it doesn't start working when he does.
Here's what Dr. Harris said as he campaigned for his seat: "The answer to the ever-rising cost of insurance is not the expansion of government-run or government-mandated insurance but, instead, common-sense, market-based solutions that ensure decisions are made by patients and their doctors. Reform should focus on reducing costs and maintaining quality while preserving individual rights."
That's pretty much the Republican blah-blah-blah — it all sounds good but doesn't add up to much. There's little in those concepts that would substantially change the nation's march toward a health care crisis.
The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is fabulous, one of the best around, offering all kinds of choices for federal employees, members of Congress and their families. It's the kind of package that would be offered to millions of uninsured Americans under what the Republicans ridicule as "Obamacare" and promise to repeal.
If Dr. Harris is opposed to "government-run or government-mandated insurance," if he opposes subsidizing insurance for others, then he shouldn't subscribe to such a system. He shouldn't allow the socialists to seduce him into taking the fruit from that poisoned tree. Resist all temptation, Andy! The serpent is afoot! Stamp it out and stand on your principles.
Dan Rodricks' column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. He is the host of Midday on WYPR, 88.1 FM. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.