by Frank Lewis
You probably know that members of Congress have a pretty good healthcare package. You probably didn't know just how good — and how cheap — it really is. From ABC News:
Services offered by the Office of the Attending Physician include physicals and routine examinations, on-site X-rays and lab work, physical therapy and referrals to medical specialists from military hospitals and private medical practices. According to congressional budget records, the office is staffed by at least four Navy doctors as well as at least a dozen medical and X-ray technicians, nurses and a pharmacist.
Sources said when specialists are needed, they are brought to the Capitol, often at no charge to members of Congress.
"If you had, for example, prostate cancer, you would go to one of the centers of excellence for the country, which would be Johns Hopkins. If you had coronary artery disease, we would engage specialists at the Cleveland Clinic. You would go to the best care in the country. And, for the most part, nobody asked what your insurance was," [former staff physician Dr.] Balbona said.
Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.
Last year, Congress appropriated more than $3 million to reimburse the Navy for staff salaries at the office. Sources said additional money to operate the office is included in the Navy's annual budget.
In 2008, 240 members paid the annual fee, though some sources say congressmen who didn't pay the fee were rarely prevented from using OAP services.
The members of Congress who vehemently oppose any sort of public option for us have world-class government-run healthcare for themselves, and pay less than $10 a week, if they pay at all. We need a new word for this, because "hypocrisy" doesn't begin to do it justice.— Frank Lewis