JONATHAN CHAIT FEBRUARY 9, 2011
Marin Cogan has an amusing piece about conservative lawmakers who turned down their big government health care plan, entered the private market for health insurance, and are facing harsh reality:
Ask any House Republican about repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law, and you’ll get the same fiery, self-assured talking points about tearing down what Speaker John Boehner has called a “monstrosity.”
But talk to some of the 16 freshman lawmakers who have declined their government health benefits, and you’ll hear a different side of the story — about tough out-of-pocket expenses, pre-existing conditions and support for health reforms that would help those who struggle with their coverage. As they venture into the free market for health insurance, these lawmakers — many of whom swept into office fueled by tea party anger over the health care law — are facing monthly premiums of $1,200 and fears of double-digit rate hikes.
The experience has caused some of them to think harder about the “replace” part of the “repeal and replace” mantra the GOP has adopted regarding the health care law.
“I have a niece who has pre-existing conditions, and I worry about her if she was ever to lose her job,” said Florida Rep. Richard Nugent, one of the freshman lawmakers who declined federal health insurance benefits.
Of course, this hasn't made them appreciate the Affordable Care Act. It's only made them wish harder for the GOP's elusive alternative plan (the one that eliminates discrimination against people with preexisting conditions but has none of the unpopular things required to make that happen) to materialize. Baby steps.