Freshman Rep. pledges to forgo federal health insurance
January 4th, 2011
02:39 PM ET
4 years ago

Freshman Rep. pledges to forgo federal health insurance

Washington (CNN) - As House Republicans prepare to introduce a repeal of the health care reform bill, one new GOP congressman said he is standing by his pledge to forgo federal health insurance despite a potentially expensive personal impact.

Rep.-elect Joe Walsh, R-Illinois, told CNN's Jim Acosta that he and his wife will not accept the insurance offered to members of Congress because he made a pledge during the campaign last January.

"My wife and I are going to struggle a little bit because of it. But I was sent to Washington to do what I said I was going to do," Walsh said in an interview on American Morning.

"I don't want to burden the American taxpayer with my health care bill. The federal government is my employer. Right now, the health care system has a real bias against folks who need to shop out there in the individual market," Walsh said.

The Illinois Republican's wife has a preexisting condition that Walsh said will make finding insurance difficult.

"My wife and I now are going to have to go through the struggles that a lot of Americans go through, trying to find insurance in the individual market and having to deal with problems of preexisting conditions."

The health care reform bill that passed last year includes a provision that will be phased in barring insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, but Walsh said he nonetheless opposes "virtually the entire bill."

Walsh said what's needed is "a change in mindset."

"We just don't want to get into a system where people can purchase insurance and then drop insurance whenever they want to. That's not - that's not going to help the system at all."

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Filed under: GOP • Health care • TV-American Morning
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Haren

    good all republican should drop their govt. health insurance before they repeal health insurance reform.

    January 4, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Wes B.

    Things to consider:
    -He won his way into the House by less than 300 votes. Almost 6,500 people in his district voted for the Green Party. Clearly the Green Party votes siphoned votes away from his Dem. opponent. So let's keep in mind that this guy probably doesn't speak for most people in his district.
    -House members make about $174,000. He's in a lot better position than some average person making $50,000.

    With those things in mind...I'm glad to see a congressman keeping his word. And maybe he WILL learn what it's like to have to deal with insurance folks like a regular person.

    January 4, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. G

    Lets see how quickly he flip flops when he realized how hard it is to get health insurance with his wife's pre-existing condition.

    January 4, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. james Miller

    He can afford to.---– What do ya bet he gets a "excellent" rate whichever company he chooses??????

    January 4, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. Democrats Class Warfare - Destroying the economy and country

    I have a better idea. Inroduce a bill that ELIMINATES Congressional healthcare and MANDATES THAT THEY PURCHASE IT FROM THEIR RESPECTIVE STATES HEALTHCARE EXCHANGE. The stinking DemocRATS had no problem with forcing the American people to buy something. They should welcome the same "opportunity".

    January 4, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. UWS

    Fresh air to see one who acts as he preaches. What i don't get is why not all GOP Reps do the same? Why is it that Government Provided Insurance is good for members of congress and their families but bad for the american people?????

    January 4, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    So far the Republicans have been excellent at doing what Americans sent them to Washington for. I don't agree with this refusal of federal health insurance by Rep- elect Walsh, but his point is well made. Americans outside of Washington DC are being listened to. Finally.

    January 4, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Good! Make sure the rest of the bloodsuckers in your Party that are joining forces to uselessly attempt to repeal the new healthcare reform do the same.

    January 4, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. greg in jax

    I will be contacting my Representing demanding that he too refuse the federal health insurance.. its only fair if he thinks federal money should not be used to fund anyones health insurance, that should include his as well. Everyone living in republican districts should do the same.

    January 4, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. PalmReader

    The Illinois Republican's wife has a preexisting condition that Walsh said will make finding insurance difficult.
    -----------------
    Yes, well, why then all the grandstanding, Walsh? Using your wife's preexisting condition as means to make a political statement is extremely foolhardy, and unnecessary. NOT everyone who depends on the Affordable Health Care bill has a salary in excess of $170,000 per year with which to cover current health care costs. Quite the contrary, actually. It is those who are UNABLE to afford healthcare who most benefit from the the Affordable Heath Care bill. Repeal it, and the same working poor you are sworn to protect are right back where they have always been in the land of GOPerville: out of sight, out of mind.

    January 4, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    "We just don't want to get into a system where people can purchase insurance and then drop insurance whenever they want to."

    Why not? Isn't that the essence of the free market, that the consumer gets to choose?

    Boy, this Walsh guy sounds like a Commie!

    January 4, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Danny

    If this jerk will allow his own wife to suffer to score some political points just think what he'd put the rest of us through.

    January 4, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Former Republican - Now Independent

    While I don't particularly care for Mr. Walsh, I wish to go on record as applauding his decision and his reasoning. Too bad none of his Republican colleagues shed their mantle of hypocrisy regarding health care.

    January 4, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. tinb

    LOL. I'd like to know his family income. I'll bet the "struggling" congressman's definition of "struggling" is a tad askew. I'm glad he's willing to gamble with his family's life and shows so much concern for others.

    January 4, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. D-NICE

    Wow this guy is doing what most republican citizens do. Go against their own intrests to support the republican party. It really amazing to see a congressman do it though. You can tell this guy is a freshman. I give him a year before he flip flops.

    January 4, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Russ

    Good for you congressman. Too bad the rest of scum bags in congress take the free socialist government health care but don't want the rest of us to have it, even when we'll still be paying for it to some degree.

    January 4, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Hey, wait a minute. If he was an elected official in Illinois, doesn't he get free health insurance for him and his wife for the rest of his life? What a hero.

    January 4, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Thinker

    Walsh said what's needed is "a change in mindset."

    "We just don't want to get into a system where people can purchase insurance and then drop insurance whenever they want to. That's not – that's not going to help the system at all."

    Why is that a bad thing Senator? That is Capitalism in practice. Consumers having the ability to switch leads to competition, competition leads to lower prices, lower prices lead to the American People having more money to spend. More money to spend means we Americans can buy more American goods (hopefully) spurring the economy even further. Why would competition be bad for Health care but not bad for everything else? Is it because the HMOs are comfortable with the current situation and their astounding profits?

    The people are what's important here. Let's keep them in the spotlight.

    January 4, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Dan

    this guy is an idiot. "We just don't want to get into a system where people can purchase insurance and then drop insurance whenever they want to. That's not – that's not going to help the system at all." that's the entire point of the mandate. that's the entire reason that republicans oppose it. but, it's also what make's it work. i hope by going to the individual market, he learns a lot about health care reform, and why it's necessary. but that might require some intelligence.

    January 4, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    From Walsh's Web site: "For the past couple of years, Joe has worked with Ravenswood Advisors, a Chicago-based boutique investment banking group ..."

    Yeah, right, he's just like most "average Americans." He can afford just about any health insurance plan and if he or anyone in his family should get sick, they'll be able to afford the treatment.

    Typical Republican hypocrite!

    January 4, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. juliei4

    Let us know when he caves.

    January 4, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    From Walsh's Web site: "He intends to be a loud, forceful voice against this expanding government which will stifle economic growth and bankrupt our children and grandchildren."

    Where was Walsh when GW Bush was taking the Clinton surplus and turning it into a huge deficit by cutting taxes on the rich during wartime (unprecedented in our nation's history) and waging two wars off the books?

    Oh, yeah, that's right: He was busy working at Ravenswood Advisors, "a Chicago-based boutique investment banking group ..."

    Typical Republican hypocrite! When the GOP takes our country down the tubes in its efforts to destroy the Middle Class and funnel our nation's wealth up to the rich, it's OK; when a Democratic President tries to help the Middle Class and make the rich pay their fare share, he gets all upset.

    Jerk!

    January 4, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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