The Perks Of Elitist Congressional Health Care

I have written before that members of Congress have the same health care insurance as all other federal employees and that it is nothing special. There are a number of plans from which to choose and the prices are reasonable because there are a lot of federal employees in the pool.

I have also written about the special floor at Walter Reed Army Hospital that is set up for special people like members of Congress. The floor has about nine beds, all in private rooms, a concierge, and its own chef. While the troops are navigating the unbelievable paper storm and administrative maze that is military care, the members of Congress are whisked to that special floor to be treated like royalty. The floor is not used very often and costs about a million dollars a year to maintain.

Another perk that members of Congress have is a special clinic that is very modern with up to date equipment and features six satellite sites. It is run by the Navy and basically provides family practice care to members of Congress. Who pays for this? Well, they pay $503 a year to use it and taxpayers foot the bill for the rest. Congress appropriated $3 million to reimburse the Navy for the staff providing the care. This does not include the equipment and procedure costs. The perk is known as the Office of the Attending Physician.

Members who do not pay the fee are not turned away and none of them fill out paperwork for reimbursement from their federal employee insurance. The VA bills the private insurance of our veterans but members of Congress are not bothered with such things.

The care provided is not first aid. When members report to the clinic they are given a thorough exam and everything under the Sun is done for them (even if first aid is all they need). The clinic has x-ray equipment and provides services such as physical therapy.

The clinic staff would not answer questions and ABC reporters looking into the perk were asked to leave. Much of the information comes from former employees who say that members of Congress abuse the Office of the Attending Physician and use it as their primary care.

One person, though, defended the perk. Eduardo Balbona, who worked there from 1993 to 1995 had this to say:

“They provide members an accessible, professional place to get services. The alternative would be members going throughout Washington, DC, interrupting their service to our country,” Balbona said. “It’s not a political perk. Much like a medic who’s in combat, it’s not a perk for those soldiers. It’s part of the mission.” ABC

Additionally, the piece indicates that this is viewed as no different from the medical services provided by many employers. Most medical services provided by private employers are for the purpose of work place surveillance relative to exposures to hazards (noise, toxic chemicals, cumulative trauma etc.) and is not there to provide primary care. Sure, some places check blood pressure, provide cholesterol screening, offer workplace education on proper lifting and back injuries, and dispense over the counter medications to keep people at work but they do not provide the things members of Congress are getting, largely at our expense. And to this Balboa guy, he obviously does not know what a combat medic does. The medic is not on the battlefield waiting for people to stop by for a check-up. He is there to provide lifesaving care to those who are injured as a result of war. Members of Congress are being treated like royalty for things that, most of the time, are non emergent.

This might explain why these people exempt themselves from the government plan they will force everyone else to take. Why should they have to sit in an office for a few hours with the regular people waiting to be seen by a doctor when they can waltz into a state of the art facility, be seen right away, and get a complete exam with everything they want, with all but $503 at the taxpayer’s expense?

We need to hold these people accountable and force them to take any option that they require us to take. Any member who uses this service needs to be voted out of office.

Call your Representatives and Senators and ask them if they use this service. If they do, tell them they lost your vote and boot them out of office.

Until we hold these people accountable and get it in their heads that they work for us, they will continue to add to the ever growing list of perks that are provided at our expense. That list includes the services mentioned in this post, free cars (with insurance, gas, and maintenance included), and free flights.

We are a country that does not have royalty and we need to stop these people from acting like kings and queens.

Wake up America. The next American Revolution takes place in November of 2010 when we vote them all out of office.

Be patriotic and be part of that revolution.

Big Dog

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7 Responses to “The Perks Of Elitist Congressional Health Care”

  1. Blake says:

    And the aura of entitlement shines so bright, attracting all the insects.
    Our Congress- dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants.

  2. Darrel says:

    “While the troops are navigating the unbelievable paper storm and administrative maze that is military care,…” –Big Dog, today

    vs.

    “How many here have actually worked in military medicine? The care is the best in the world, the administrative side and the costs leave little to be desired. Military medicine is a bit of a specialty of mine.”
    –Big Dog, Monday Jun 15th, 2009 at 23:09

    I wonder which one of these statements is true?

    “unbelievable… administrative maze”

    Or an

    “administrative side [that] leave little to be desired”

    Bigd: “the prices are reasonable because there are a lot of federal employees in the pool.”

    DAR
    Hey, want even more reasonable prices? Put *everyone* in the same pool. That’s something our peer countries figured out a long time ago.

    • Big Dog says:

      Darrel, I believe we went through this before and I told you then that I meant that it leaves a lot to be desired and I used the wrong words when I wrote it.

      I think when we discussed this I told you that the care by the people was great but that the troops had to go through a maze in paperwork.

      I used the word little when I meant that the paperwork and cost leave a lot to be desired. My past statements about the extreme cost of the military health care system and the paperwork involved coupled with my previous clearing up of this should keep you from continually using a mistake I made (improper use of a word) to claim I have two positions.

      To clear it up one more time. The care is great. The paperwork and cost are not so good.

      That do it for ya?

      • Darrel says:

        [The care is great. The paperwork and cost are not so good.]

        DAR
        Okay, got it. I don’t remember you clarifying this before.

        Maybe they ought to get a smart card (invented in the US) like Canada, France, UK and Germany have. I think I read that the VA has this too.

        D.

        • Big Dog says:

          They have smart cards (so to speak) but the different agencies have different computer systems and there are issues with records of those deployed and the movement all across the world.

          I think they are slowly making the systems all talk to each other but this is taking time and lots of money.

          It is like any large bureaucracy, lots of waste in time and effort.

  3. John C says:

    This kind of reminds me of the house bank issue some years ago. Congresscritters getting special banking perks that virtually nobody else in the country could get (like being thousands of dollars in the hole without account closure or overdraft fees).

    So far as getting rid of them, I am in favor of 100% turnover.