FEHBP On Life Support?

Friday - 9/25/2009, 4:00am EDT

If members of Congress are shamed into opting out of the federal health program, taking 9 million current and former career feds with them, my question is this:

What disguises will Senators and Representatives who vote for the exodus use for the rest of their lives? With whom will they socialize?

Will they feel the need to wear masks or fake beards or wigs as they make their way to their Senate and House offices each day? Will their considerable support staff be, well, less supportive? Will their spouses stop speaking to them, or maybe move on to greener medical pastures?

Will they feel the need for plastic surgery (maybe covered by the new plan?) so they can continue to function in their jobs without getting yelled at or snubbed by angry colleagues? Because the people who vote to do this aren't going to be very popular with most of their colleagues. Or with feds who serve and guard them.

The battle over health care reform has generated rhetoric, claims and counterclaims by both sides. Some are probably fair. Others are absurd, but some people, on both sides, are listening.

People on both sides including the President of the U.S. and the President of the highly-regarded Mayo Clinic agree on one thing: The FEHBP is about as good as it gets and all Americans deserve similar coverage. This is said both by people seeking "reform" and those seeking to kill it, or at least prevent the complex changes from being pushed too far, too fast.

Federal workers and retirees, 9 million of them, and their families seemed to be safe from change until this week. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced an amendment (one of 500 in pdf form) to the health care plan. Simply put, it would eliminate the FEHBP by 2013 putting elected politicians and career civil servants into the proposed state-based health exchanges.

So what's his point? What's his plan? What's his goal?

The Washington establishment tends to demonize the opposition because they are, well, in the opposition. But strife also makes for full employment as opposing armies of lawyers, lobbyists and staff make billable hour warfare. Journalists love it because it's a ready-made fight.

The Senator, who is a very smart, honorable man, has struck at the heart of the issue: If we change the health care system how can you not let American farmers, steel workers, teachers, engineers and the uninsured have the best care money can buy? Don't they deserve a plan or plans with no restrictions because of age, health or preexisting medical conditions. A plan or plans that charges the very old and the very young the same premiums? A plan that doesn't require them to work for the government?

And what better way to give Americans the best possible coverage and/or kill off the drive for reform then by calling the bluff of most politicians. Telling them to put up or shut up. Asking the same from both sides: If you want the best for all Americans, equal treatment, etc., let's eliminate the FEHBP and throw everybody in it into the pool.

Prediction: It isn't going to happen!

But it certain got people's attention!

And that may be the point.

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Phil Vogel

The first ever snowmobile drive-thru for McDonald's is in Pitea, Sweden.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com