As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Membership Has Its Privileges

The LA Times has an article out about Congressional health benefits that fails to delineate between the recipients of those benefits. Congressional staffers work long hours and a great majority of them make next to nothing. These benefits are excellent, but they'd probably be happy to give them up in exchange for a bump in salary.

The lawmakers themselves have less of an excuse. Their salaries are fixed but the great majority of them are rich beyond belief. If you means-tested health benefits for members of Congress at, say, $1 million dollars net worth, you'd capture close to every member of the Senate and a good bit of the House.

Really only one Congressman, Steve Kagen (D-WI), can speak with any authority about this issue:

The Wisconsin Democrat has refused to accept federal healthcare benefits, making him the only member of Congress to do without. He will continue, he said in an interview, until every American can enjoy the same coverage as federal lawmakers.

Kagen recently had knee surgery, writing checks for more than $4,500 after bargaining for a reduced-rate MRI and a 50% discount on the operation. (He is still dickering over the hospital bill.)

"If every member of Congress put their heads on their pillow every night like I do . . . knowing this could be the night I lose my house, we'd fix healthcare in a week," said Kagen, who spent decades as a doctor in the Green Bay area before winning office in 2006.

Kagen said his wife and three of his four children have health coverage. But not his oldest daughter, 28, who can't afford insurance.

She's a nurse in Miami.

I don't think a guy who practiced medicine for decades before landing a job with a comfortable six-figure salary is actually in danger of losing his house (and how did he bargain for a discount surgery? Can I do that?), his point is fairly obvious. And the punch line, about the daughter who can't afford health insurance while a practicing nurse, is devastating.

Meanwhile, morons like Jim DeMint feel comfortable opening their yap every day about health care, not only while having done nothing for the American people in all the years Republicans were in power, but while accepting generous subsidies from the taxpayer for their own health insurance.

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