Rep.-elect Joe Walsh to forgo government health care despite wife’s preexisting condition

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

Rep.-elect Joe Walsh, a Republican from Illinois, will make good on a campaign promise and forgo government provided health care for himself and his wife in protest of the Obama’s health care plan — in spite of his wife’s a preexisting condition.

“I don’t want to burden the American tax payer about my health care bill,” he said on CNN Tuesday.

“Right now,” he continued, “the health care system has a real bias against folks who need to shop out there in the individual market. My wife and I now are going to have to go through the struggles that a lot of Americans go through, trying to find insurance in the individual market and having to deal with problems of preexisting conditions.”

Walsh did not specify the nature of his wife’s preexisting condition. In December, The Hill reported that “Walsh’s wife is reportedly unhappy with her husband’s decision.”

Walsh said that he did not consider his colleagues who will receive government health care to be hypocrites, but felt that his heralded a new era for Congress.

“This is my decision,” he said, but added: “I believe there are a couple other freshmen that feel the same way.”

“I feel I was sent to Washington to be something different,” he continued. “We tend to pass laws that impact the rest of us, but not members of Congress. There’s going to be a real serious, I think, change in culture here in Washington. This freshman class, we’re coming here to just conduct real business.”

Walsh said he has a problem with “virtually the entire bill,” calling it a “job killer. Though he conceded the need to make it easier for people who have preexisting conditions to obtain insurance, he was adamant that the system should not allow for people to only purchase insurance when they got sick.

“We need to make sure that there still is a system in this country where folks are paying monthly premiums,” he said. “We don’t want to get into a system where people can purchase insurance and then drop insurance whenever they want to. That’s not going to help the system at all.”

Asked how he would respond to those who say “that’s kind of cold, to not accept health benefits through the federal government when your wife has a preexisting condition,” Walsh said that it was the principle of the thing.

“This is an important principle. My wife and I had struggle a little bit. But I was sent to Washington to do what I said I would do. And this is a pledge I’ve had out there a year.”