Crowley, Sanchez, Edwards, Ryan Introduce Resolution Requiring Members to Disclose Their Taxpayer-Subsidized Health Benefits

March 15, 2011
Press Release

Washington, D.C.Today, Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), who first challenged members of Congress who support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to “walk the walk” and decline their taxpayer-subsidized health benefits in November 2010, introduced a resolution that would require all members of Congress to disclose whether they are enrolled in taxpayer-subsidized health care through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The introduction of the FEHBP disclosure resolution comes on the heels of a motion by Rep. Crowley to add this requirement to the Rules Package for the 112th Congress earlier this year, which was unanimously opposed by Republicans.

Similar to the personal financial disclosure requirement, this resolution would require members to report to the Clerk of the House whether or not they are enrolled in FEHBP – making the information publicly available. The resolution would require members to disclose their participation in FEHBP to the Clerk no later than 60 days after taking the oath of office or 15 days after the adoption of the resolution. In addition, members would be required to notify the clerk within 15 days of any changes they make to their participation in the health benefits program.

“It’s easy to spit out rhetoric, but it’s quite another thing to walk the walk. If Republicans wish to take away quality, affordable health care from Americans, then they should no longer be able to hide their benefits from the very public that subsidizes their own care,” said Rep. Crowley. “Taxpayers are our employer. They contribute to our health care coverage and they have the right to know if their representative in Congress is enrolled in taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. If Republicans are serious about their pledge to increase transparency and accountability in Congress, this resolution should receive unanimous support.”

“Based on all of their rhetoric, you would think that Republicans disapproved of taxpayer-funded health care,” said Rep. Sánchez. “They do – for millions of Americans who would struggle to get coverage, but not for themselves. If Republicans are truly proud of voting to repeal health care, they should be proud and decline their tax-payer funded health benefits. They should take it a step further and share their decision with the American people.”

“Instead of focusing on creating jobs and strengthening the economy, the Republican majority continues to prioritize efforts to repeal and defund the Affordable Care Act,” said Rep. Edwards. “Republicans who work to deny millions of Americans the opportunity to obtain affordable, quality health care coverage forfeit the right to accept employer-subsidized FEHBP health insurance. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this resolution to highlight the hypocrisy surrounding this issue and will continue fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act on behalf of American families.”
“House Republicans want to have their cake and eat it too, and it’s time to hold them accountable,” said Rep. Ryan. “If Republicans truly believe in transparency and accountable, they should have no problem disclosing to their constituents whether they receive government-sponsored health care. Yet they’ve repeatedly voted against having to disclose this information. What are Republicans trying to hide?”

“House Republican members seeking to repeal and defund the Affordable Care Act are guilty of a double standard,” said Ron Pollack, Families USA’s Executive Director. “They plan to take away from our families the same benefits and rights they intend to keep for themselves-courtesy of America’s taxpayers. It is enough to give hypocrisy a bad name.”

Members of Congress, like all federal employees, have access to health insurance through their employer.  The FEHB program provides federal employees with a range of private insurance plans from which they can choose the coverage plan that works best for them and their families. Federal employees, including members of Congress, pay premiums for the care they receive. The Affordable Care Act was designed to provide a similar structure for Americans who do not have access to affordable coverage to obtain insurance, such as many self-employed and small business employees. In January, Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act despite the fact that the majority of Americans oppose repeal of the law.

Reps. Crowley, Sánchez, Edwards, and Ryan have led the charge in exposing Republican hypocrisy on the issue of healthcare. Last fall, the members led 61 House Democrats in letter to GOP Leadership calling on Republican members of Congress who support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to “walk the walk” by declining their own taxpayer-subsidized health care and forgoing enrollment in FEHBP. Over 20 Republican members of Congress have since declined enrolling in FEHBP; however, the vast majority of these members have a back-up plan for securing health care coverage for them and their families, such as benefits offered through a previous employer, the Veterans Administration and state legislatures.  

To read the letter sent by the Members to Republican Leadership last year, please click here.