Senate Finance Members Consider Amendment That Would Require Lawmakers ‘To Walk The Walk’ Regarding Reform Proposals
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, proposed an amendment Tuesday night that other Finance Committee senators couldn't refuse: To force lawmakers to buy insurance coverage on an "exchange" proposed in the reform bills, rather than accept coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, CQ Politics reports. "My interest in having members of Congress participate in the exchange is consistent with my long-held view that Congress should live under the same laws it passes for the rest of the country," he said. The exchange would be modeled on the government's package, and is intended to allow uninsured individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage at group rates (9/30).
Grassley said he was inspired to offer the amendment by comments at town hall meetings in Iowa this summer, the Des Moines Register reports. "This is kind of carrying on to what I heard at my town meetings: Is Congress going to be covered by the same laws we expect everyone else to when it comes to health care? And I think I've delivered on that promise," the senator said (Beaumont, 10/1).
Meanwhile, an ABC News investigation details another source of health care lawmakers could still tap, even if their paid-for benefits vanish. The Office of the Attending Physician, an advanced medical clinic in the Capitol building, offers members "the best health care on the planet," including onsite consultations with specialists, a variety of scans and intensive primary care services.
Members pay $503 a year for all their care at the clinic, nearly the same rate they negotiated in 1992 when the Office stopped providing totally free care, despite the fact that medical costs have soared during the 17 intervening years. Congress plans to spend $3.8 million on the clinic next year, "including more than half a million dollars to upgrade the Office's radiology suite" (Shaylor and Abdelmalek, 9/30).