Las Vegas Sun

December 11, 2023

Nevada Wonk

Rep. Joe Heck will accept congressional health insurance

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Newly elected congressman, Joe Heck, is photographed at his offices in Las Vegas Wednesday, November 3, 2010.

Rep. Joe Heck, in one of his first moves in Congress, opposed a measure that would have required members of Congress to disclose whether they will accept government health care.

Heck, in fact, will take advantage of the Congressional health insurance plan, his aides said.

"Just like millions of Americans, Dr. Heck will be receiving his insurance through his employer -- in this case the House of Representatives," Grant Hewitt, Heck's transition director, told the Sun.

Democrats (once again) are mounting a full-scale attack on Republicans over the issue of health care, this time in response to new House Speaker John Boehner's announcement that he will schedule a vote Wednesday to repeal the health care reform bill Democrats passed in March.

President Barack Obama's political operatives are launching a media blitz -- with commercials and phone banks -- to try to influence public opinion and thwart the attack. Democrats consider passage of health care reform one of their biggest achievements.

Heck is caught in the crossfire. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after Wednesday's vote blasted the new Congressman for being a "hypocrite," accusing Heck, an emergency room doctor, of trying to hide his government health care while working to repeal coverage for citizens.

Heck says he's not hiding anything and has told whoever asks that he will sign onto the Congressional plan, which includes a premium but is subsidized by taxpayer dollars. Heck said he voted against the disclosure rule because he didn't think another law was needed in an already bloated government.

Like many Republican candidates, Heck campaigned on changing and repealing the health care bill, and his opposition to the reforms, which many Nevadans oppose, helped him beat one-term Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, who voted in favor of the bill.

Heck called Democrats' comparison of his health care coverage to health care reform "apples to oranges."

But at least six House Republicans who ran on anti-"Obamacare" platforms have refused Congressional benefits. Depending on how long people's memories are, accepting the plan could prove a political liability for Heck.

A recent Public Policy Polling survey found that 53 percent of voters -- and 58 percent of Republicans -- think incoming Congressmen who campaigned against health care reform should decline government insurance.

Heck's Republican colleague Rep. Dean Heller also voted against the disclosure rule. Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley voted for it.

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