Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Priviledged Classes

The irony is delicious: a Freshman GOP representative who ran on a platform opposing the Federal government's plan to expand health care insurance coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans is incensed that his new Congressional health care plan will not take effect for 28 days after his swearing-in:

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

What will he do? Uh, I dunno... maybe he can drive to a Hospital Emergency room when he gets sick (like the millions of uninsured who have little other option). And it's not like he's not eligible for COBRA coverage to tide him over for the next month.

Of course, Harris had a disingenuous explanation when confronted with his hypocrisy and sense of entitlement:

[Spokeswoman Anna ]Nix said Harris, who is the father of five, wasn’t being hypocritical – he was just pointing out the inefficiency of government-run health care.

Actually, there's no inefficiency here. This beginning coverage period is mandated by Federal law.

Harris' sense of entitlement is sickening, of course. It's nice that he's facing the same conundrums that many ordinary Americans who aren't wealthy doctors face every day. Also, let's face it. The guy's still got it pretty easy. he can easily afford COBRA and he at least knows for sure he'll be getting coverage in 28 days. I know of a woman whose employer informed her that she was being reduced from full time employment to part-time employment soon after the COBRA benefits from her previous job ran out: the new employer did not want to have to offer her the full benefits (including health care) that she would have been entitled to as a full time employee. Like Harris, her new employer had a probationary period during which she was not entitled to full benefits coverage. Unlike Harris, once she became eligible, her employer found a way to yank the benefits anyway. The cruelest irony, of course, is that she had already exhausted COBRA and was now left to fend on her own. (I know these details to be true because my wife was HR manager for the company and was instructed to change the woman's employment status by the company president for the aforementioned reasons).

UPDATE: Jonathan Chait gets the Gold for this one-liner:

I think we finally have a working definition of a health insurance crisis--when a member of Congress has to go a whole month without coverage.

(Via: Wonkette)

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