Freshman Rep. pledges to forgo federal health insurance
January 4th, 2011
02:39 PM ET
7 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. feed up with tea partiers

    I wonder how long he will make it with out healthcare. Oh wait a minute, he is a politician he'll be able to afford it even if it is costly. Keep it coming Republicans. Keep running on this healthcare repeal. I am gonna love what it does to your re-election. I wonder if you have enough White, Elderly Senior Tea partiers to get the votes your gonna need to win after you stick it to us. Or try to!!!!!

    January 4, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  2. ag5764

    Your wife should be proud of your principles. Too bad you are exploiting her for political purposes.

    January 4, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. Patriots Salute the Flag! Traitors don't!!!

    Rep. Walsh sounds like a man who should be considered as a Republican for President. I value his opinion as being the smartest comment I've heard lately. Not only his opinion about the insurance but all government employees should have the same insurance as they're going to be offering the poor. Plus Representatives something needs to be done with a Commander-in-Chief who dishonors this country by never saluting the Flag or the National Antheum. This is a downright show of ignorance if I've ever seen it. But yet these same people who follow Obama like blind ducks see nothing wrong with it. They bash Sarah Palin as a joke. WELL WHAT IS THIS MAN THE PUKE OF AN O'POSSUM. I WAS A DEMOCRAT FOR 50 YEARS. 6 MONTHS INTO THIS MAN'S TERM HE CHANGED ME. I REALIZED I AM A CHRISTIAN AND NOT THE IMMORAL PERSON THAT THIS PARTY REPRESENTS. WITH PEOPLE LIKE THESE THIS COUNTRY IS ON A CRASH COURSE TO DESTRUCTION. CHANGE IS WONDERFUL ISN'T IT MISTER PRESIDENT OF FOOLS...........WHERE HAVE ALL THE PATRIOTS GONE? DO SOMETHING.

    January 4, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Dr. Feel Good

    Hope the rest of the GOP will follow suit.

    January 4, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. kayla

    WOW, tha's nice. maybe they should all give up their insurance that we pay for.

    January 4, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Loquitor

    I bet his wife does not have Type 1 Diabetes because if she did she wouldn't be able to get insurance on the private market until 2014

    January 4, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. Elle in Idaho

    I have a really hard time believing this guy is willing to pay $1,000+ for health insurance in the private market because his wife has a pre-existing condition, when he has it readily available through his employer, and still oppose the new health care laws. It's not just an oxymoron – he's a moron. No one cares if you want to do this to yourself intentionally, it's those of us who HAVE to buy private insurance at outrageous rates just to have only 20-30% of it covered that need this insurance reform.

    My family and I are living proof of this problem. I run my own business, my husband lost his job, and one of my two children has a very minor pre-existing condition that insurance companies use as an excuse to jack up our rates astronomically. We can't afford their rates. This is a problem and needs to be fixed. Finally someone (Obama) was able to come up with a possible* solution, so why not wait to see if it works instead of spending time and taxpayer money on drafting a repeal you know won't pass? It's a stupid, senseless GOP tactic that does nothing but piss off your constituents.

    January 4, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. mike

    what does this idiot want a merit badge for what he told the voters nobody really cares about his personnel quest and at the end of the year when nobody is paying any attention he will be getting government healthcare I wonder if he still paying for his student loans that he got from the government what a scum bag socialist

    January 4, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Bill, NY

    While I do not agree with his position on the Health Care Bill I totally respect a person who walks the walk as well as they talk the talk. A person of true integrity. Lets see the rest of those idiots do the same. Ha!!!

    January 4, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. martin

    I don't believe him. He'll end up with Gov't health care. Just you wait and see.

    January 4, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. Michelle

    This guy is making no sense at all. Is he saying he wants to pay out of pocket for his medical expenses even if his expenses are above $100,000? Is he forgoing life and car insurance as well? The issue with pre-reform health insurance was that people were being dropped for being sick or for having pre-existing conditions. These issues were addressed with reform. What exactly is he finding objectionable about that?

    January 4, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. Kawuma

    Talk about people voting against their interests, it's a strange world that we live in!

    January 4, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. Robert

    Interesting thing to stand up to. I hereby stand up against a law that makes getting my wife's reexisting condition covered. Instead I am going to brave the system that will be more expensive and less likely to get my wife covered.

    January 4, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. Bruce

    This will blow up in his face just like the Air Force Lt Col birther who refused an assignment because he didn't believe President Obama was born in the US. He's a Tea Party sacrificial lamb!

    January 4, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If Joe did not want to burden the taxpayers, he would forego his $175,000 salary which is almost 20 times what his health care costs.

    January 4, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Okay... How many Americans would give up the option if they were given that? I doubt that anyone would fault him if he took it. We need to find a different (and better) way to reduce costs. I would have preferred that there be a way to get the cost of becoming and being a doctor to be reduced. If there could be ways to waive some of the student loans for medical and nursing students as well as getting the malpractice insurance companies to reduce their rates if there is a cap on damages.

    January 4, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Now, if we can just get him to live by all of the rest of the rules, laws and limits that the rest of us have to deal with, and THEN, if he can get the rest of Congress to do the same, we MIGHT just have a chance at Government FOR THE PEOPLE.
    This small and comparatively empty gesture is more political theater than anything else.

    January 4, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    OK, if this guy is unwilling to accept a health care plan offered to Congressmen and their families that will ensure his wife gets the coverage she needs, than maybe he isn't smart enough to really be in Congress! What he is doing is just cutting off his nose to spite his face.
    I would personally feel better if he refused to accept his pay (ala Jay Rockefeller) or vowed to insert no earmarks himself, and to publicize the names of any earmark inserters he finds (of course, that will mean he has to list the entire Republican and Democratic Congressional leadership!)!

    January 4, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. John

    He's a fool to risk his wife's health to pull a political stunt.

    January 4, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  20. IEK

    Does this guy even know what's in the bill he wants to repeal?

    1) It ends Congress's Federal Employee Benefits, in 2014 they're all going to have to get insurance in the individual market.
    2) It is is mostly designed to fix the individual market, to make sure that all plans in that market provide GOOD coverage and are affordable for lower and middle income families.
    3) It gets rid of pre-existing conditions.
    4) It includes a way to stop it from becoming "a system where people can purchase insurance and then drop insurance whenever they want to". It's called the mandate that his Republican colleagues are so strongly opposed to.

    January 4, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  21. R

    I'm sure they'll still have a roof over their heads and be able to go on actual vacations to far away places (unlike us that can't afford to leave their own backyard), but I give him credit for at least making some cutbacks. Although I doubt any other self-serving politician would dare do something like this – that might actually mean that they care about the people that elected them to office in the first place.

    January 4, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Sherri W.W.#1~ ILLinois

    One Congressman said yesterday that,any member of Congress that votes to repeal OUR Health Care,should NOT take the Federal health ins that WE pay for.I believe that is correct,however in reality,this new Congressman Walsh may find himself changing his mind,when he finds out just how hard it will be to get his wife insured.This morning,I telephoned Sen.McConnells'ofice,and told them that I have no idea where they get it ,that "the American people"dont want this new Health Care? I also told them that my husbaand is 67 and has put off retiring for 2 yrs now because WE CANNOT AFFORD OUR MEDICINES ON MEDICARE BECAUSE OF THE "donut hole".Our ins man said both of us wd fall into that within 4mos on Medicare tho we have to pay the prem.all 12 mos.He has had 1 H.Attack already an must hv meds,as well as myself. FINALLY~in 2011,the Health Care Bill is addressing that and paying for 1/2 the meds~but still leaving us paying about $10,000per yr out of soc.sec. for Medicare Ins and meds,The HC Bill will make that better each yr.He has worked 50yrs and I worked 35 and pd into it every single week! We also hv 2 grandchidren,teens now,and well,but 1 had cancer at 2yrs old and 1 had open heart surgery at 2 weeks old~both are college bound straight A students,who will now have the Health Ins they deserve. I SAY TO REPUBLICANS"LEAVE OUR HEALTH CARE BILL ALONE"~ UNLESS YOU WANT TO ADD THE PUBLIC OPTION" Its all we "little people "have!

    January 4, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. GI Joe

    He'd better be thankful for the law that says his wife CAN get insurance with a pre-existing condition. Of course, he can afford to sneak behind everyone's back and get gov't. insurance on our nickel. It's private and he probably will and then LIE TO US. He's a republican - they ALL LIE.

    January 4, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA/John Boehner The Crybaby

    "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."

    What a phony story. His wife will be able to get covered because the Affordable Healthcare Act is already in place. What a bunch of malarky.

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

    Why stop there? Why not give over your salary as well.

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