Why Don’t All Americans Have Healthcare Like Congressional Members Get?
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
It’s generous but not free. It’s not as good as Medicare for all – the only equitable system, especially for the world’s richest country, easily able to afford it.
Medicare coverage isn’t free as originally promised. Eligible recipients with incomes above a certain amount have to pay for Parts B and D. Supplemental insurance is needed for what Medicare doesn’t cover.
Seniors like myself pay plenty for Medicare, originally touted as free. It’s not an entitlement, as falsely claimed. It’s financed by individual and employer payroll tax deductions – insurance premiums by another name.
Here’s what congressional members get. Prior to enactment of Obamacare, they got the same healthcare coverage as other federal employees through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
Obamacare requires lawmakers and designated staff members to get coverage through the Affordable Care Act DC Health Link exchange.
It covers 72% of premiums, recipients responsible for the other 28% through payroll tax deductions. Benefits are similar to what most large companies provide.
There’s more. Congressional members and designated staff can contribute to Flex 125 savings plans, used to defray healthcare costs with pre-tax dollars.
If they wish dental, vision, and/or long-term care insurance, they have to pay the full cost with pre-tax dollars.
Congressional members alone get free or low-cost healthcare through the Office of the Attending Physician – a benefit unavailable to other Americans.
For an annual fee, they receive limited care for routine checkups, consultations, and certain diagnostic tests.
They’re eligible for free outpatient care at military hospitals while in Washington, not home in their districts or elsewhere.
If they return to private life before eligibility for Medicare, they can buy FEHBP insurance – provided they’ve had continuous DC Shop coverage for five years.
If Obamacare is repealed and not replaced, they’re eligible to be covered by FEHBP insurance.
Millions of Americans aren’t as fortunate. They’re not nearly as well paid. House and Senate member earn $174,000 annually – majority and minority leaders $193,400, the House speaker $223,000 – enough income for congressional members to afford adequate coverage.
They also receive generous pension and allowance benefits. They can earn additional outside income, limited to no more than 15% of their annual pay – other than gains from investments, dividends or profits.
They can deduct up to $3,000 annually from federal taxes for living expenses away from their home states or congressional districts.
They benefit from insider trading -illegal for others. Nothing in the Securities and Exchange Commission Act prevents lawmakers and other federal employees from profiting from information learned on the job.
Perks include free office and DC airports parking, daycare for children, meals in the congressional dining room, and mail sent to constituents.
Donated funds can be spent for purposes other than campaigning. So-called fact-finding trips anywhere in the world are free. Many are boondoggles at taxpayers’ expense.
They can legislate pay increases and benefits for themselves. They can become influence-peddlers by returning to private life as highly-paid lobbyists or other ways to benefit from their prominence.
Ordinary Americans aren’t as fortunate. For most, adequate healthcare is unaffordable – why tens of millions are uninsured or way underinsured.
Polls show a large majority supports Medicare for all, the only equitable system, the way it should be for all Americans.
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