HIGHTOWER: "Portable" Health Insurance

Mark Twain said: "A flea can be trained to do anything a congressman can."Well, I'm not so sure. Personally, I doubt that a flea could ever be trained to perform all the self-serving stunts that a congressman pulls.Take health-care reform. Congress talks about it, and talks and talks and talks. But our lawmakers are like baby blue jays -- all mouth and very little bird. One big health-care concern that millions of working folks have is that if they lose their jobs, they also lose their medical insurance, since the coverage is attached to the job, not the person. There have been bills introduced to fix this flaw by making one's insurance "portable" -- you go, and it goes with you. This simple idea makes so much sense that, of course, it's trapped in committee and going nowhere.Why do they diddle and dawdle while real-life families suffer? Because they don't "feel our pain," since the super-duper health policies of members of Congress already are portable. They can get kicked-out of office and their coverage just keeps on keeping on.For example, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski not only got booted by voters in '94, but he also got convicted in court of racketeering and is now doing time in the federal pokey. Not to worry, though, Dan's congressional health plan is still in-place for him. And here's the real kicker: You and I pay the bulk of his monthly premiums! We lucky taxpayers foot the bill for about three-fourths of the cost of each member of Congress' health insurance, whether they are in office, or in jail.So they're in no rush to help us -- "Hey," they say, "manana, I've already got mine."Senator Tom Harkin has introduced a bill to take theirs away, saying that Congress should not enjoy portability until all of us get it. I agree. To support Harkin's bill, call his office: (202) 224-3254.

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