Dems label Herrera Beutler a ‘health care hypocrite’

She took government-subsidized plan while voting for reform’s repeal

By Kathie Durbin, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 
photoJaime Herrera Beutler

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee branded freshman U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler a “health care hypocrite” Tuesday for accepting government-subsidized health coverage after voting to repeal a national health reform bill aimed at extending health coverage to more than 30 million Americans.

Health policies took effect Tuesday for new members of Congress.

Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, “apparently believes that repealing health insurance reform and putting private insurance companies back in charge of our health care may be good for her constituents, but it’s not good for her very own family,” said DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson. He noted that at least 15 Republican members of Congress who voted for repeal have elected to keep with the spirit of their congressional campaigns by not taking their government health care while they fight to repeal the health care law.

“This is a real cheap shot from the Democrats’ campaign committee, and it has very little to do with the underlying issue,” retorted Casey Bowman, Herrera Beutler’s spokesman, via e-mail. The congresswoman was traveling in Pacific County and had no time to respond personally to the attack, he said.

“Jaime wants everyone in Southwest Washington to have the same choice among health care plans that federal employees do,” he said. “That’s why she supports health care reforms that lower the cost of care, increase competition in the marketplace and make it easier for small businesses to offer coverage to their employees.”

Ferguson noted that Herrera Beutler opposed a House rule that would have required members of Congress to disclose whether they have accepted health coverage. The rule, introduced by Democrats on Jan. 5, failed on a party-line vote of 238 to 191.

On Jan. 19, prior to the repeal vote, Herrera Beutler also voted with her party against a measure that would have required a majority of representatives and senators to waive coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program before enactment of the repeal could go into effect.

In a Jan. 18 floor speech supporting repeal, Herrera Beutler called for “solutions like small-business health plans, junk lawsuit reform, the expanded use of health savings accounts, and the ability to purchase health care across state lines.”

She has said she supports a bill to replace the health reform law with “patient-centered solutions,” including an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, instructing House committees to find a permanent fix to the problem of lower Medicare physician reimbursement payments, which are shutting some seniors out of health coverage.

Kathie Durbin: 360-735-4523 or kathie.durbin@columbian.com.