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Democrats Press GOP Lawmakers to Turn Down Government Health Care

Andy Harris

A group of House Democrats has released a letter to Republican congressional leaders calling on them to announce which of their members will be forgoing their congressional benefit health insurance (which is subsidized by the government) in light of their party's opposition to health care reform overhaul legislation.

"If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk," four Democrats write in the letter, which is addressed to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican leader John Boehner. "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."

According to the letter, the federal government pays more than $10,000 of the premiums of each member of Congress who has a family policy under the most selected plan.

The signatories on the letter are four liberal lawmakers: Joseph Crowley of New York, Linda T. Sanchez of California, Donna Edwards of Maryland and Tim Ryan of Ohio. They sent a separate letter to other Democratic colleagues asking them to sign onto the effort.

The Democrats say they were spurred to press Republicans to announce their position by news that Andy Harris, a conservative incoming Republican House freshman, had complained that he would not receive his government-subsidized health care coverage until Feb. 1, a month after he is sworn into office.

Harris campaigned against the health care bill, which is projected to provide coverage to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans, and his party is vowing to "repeal and replace" it.

In their letter, the Democrats write they were "surprised" to see Harris complain that "there is a delay before benefits take effect. Ironically, this is the same predicament millions of Americans currently find themselves in."

"We also find it interesting that members of the Republican conference would have no problem taking away health coverage from hard-working Americans, but expect expanded coverage for themselves and their families," they add, writing that the health care reform bill gives Americans the option of selecting a plan in a manner similar to members of Congress.

Brian Montopoli is senior political reporter for You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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