House Dems Press Incoming GOP Lawmakers to Decline Congressional Health Coverage

A liberal Democratic congressman seized Wednesday on a new poll that shows a majority of voters believe candidates who won election by campaigning against the new health care law should decline the federal insurance that comes with their new jobs in Congress.

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner cited a survey that Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, released Tuesday showing 53 percent of voters want opponents of the law to refuse government coverage.

"It's no surprise that Americans believe their elected representatives should actually practice what they preach," Weiner said in a written statement. "Unfortunately, though the 112th Congress hasn't even begun, the GOP hypocrisy already has."

"Republicans railed against health care reform as a campaign issue, but when they're offered their own health insurance – which is exactly the same as what will be offered to uninsured Americans under the reform legislation – they're glad to partake," he said.

But Republicans who campaigned on repealing and replacing "Obamacare" didn't oppose health insurance for federal employees. They opposed a new entitlement program for the public.

A spokesman for incoming House Speaker John Boehner told the Hill newspaper that there's nothing hypocritical about Republicans accepting federal health coverage.

"Boehner, like Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Reid and tens of millions of Americans, receives health coverage through his employer," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement to the newspaper. "That has nothing to do with Obamacare, which will wreck Americans' health care and bankrupt our country."

But Democrats are pressing their case, with Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., sending a letter to Republican leaders urging them to force their members to "walk that walk" and refuse coverage, the newspaper reported.

"If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk," Crowley wrote in the letter published in the Hill. "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."