Illinois Republican Joe Walsh tells TheDC why he said ‘no’ congressional health insurance

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh’s decision to shop for private health insurance rather than accept government health care — in spite of his wife’s preexisting condition — is a protest, but not, as one might expect, a protest of Obama’s health care reform. The two, he says, are separate issues.

“In many ways it has nothing to do with Obamacare,” says the newly sworn in Republican from Illinois, of his refusal to accept government health care. As The Daily Caller reported earlier this week, Walsh has followed through with this particular campaign pledge, despite the fact that his wife has a preexisting condition.

There are two separate protests, he explained to TheDC in a phone interview. The first is against Obama’s health-care reform conducted by the House Republicans. The second is his own personal protest against the status quo in government.

“This is something I thought about from day one since I started to run,” he explained. He made the pledge “not to take any health or retirement benefits” back in January, during the primary, noting that “at the time, Congress was trying to exempt themselves from the impact of Obamacare.”

“One of the things I want to do is propose an entirely radical new way of representation,” Walsh told TheDC.

“The notion of not wanting to live in this darn city of Washington is something I’ve always believed in,” he continued.

“I’m a term limit guy,” he told TheDC, saying that he would serve no more than six years in office, and that he would sleep in his office.

“I do not want to burden the American taxpayer with any of my health care costs and retirement. Period,” he said.

Denying reports that his wife, who’s preexisting condition he declined to discuss, was not thrilled with the decision, Walsh told TheDC that “she’s fully on board and fully supportive,” in spite of the fact that given her preexisting condition, “It may very well cost us a bunch of money out of pocket” to go shop for private insurance.

“The American people sent me here — and she understands this, and she’s with me on this — to do what you said you were going to do,” he said.