Why I Declined My Congressional Health Coverage

06/29/2007 11:20 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As a physician and medical scientist, I know something about Band-Aids. You have to clean the wound first if you really want it to heal. A little strip of adhesive glue and gauze is not going to get the job done.

As a Congressman, I have learned that Band-Aids are what politicians are using to "fix" our nation's broken health care delivery system. But you don't have to be a doctor or a Congressman to understand that Band-Aids can't fix a fracture.

That's why I declined to accept the health care insurance offer from Congress. Plainly put, I will not accept health insurance coverage until everyone I represent in Wisconsin and across America is given the same opportunity. After all, I did not run for this office to get health care benefits.

I ran to change Washington and to guarantee access to affordable care for every citizen, everywhere in these United States.

Since voters sent me to Capitol Hill last November, I've been working hard to leverage support for a new approach. My purpose is not to destroy profit centers in medicine, as some insurance industry allies will falsely argue, but to allow everyone to benefit from the efficient delivery of affordable care in a transparent and competitive marketplace.

Here's how.

  • Open Disclosure of all health care-related prices
  • Unitary Pricing so everyone gets the same discount and pays the same price for the same product or service
  • Form a Single Insurance Risk Pool to leverage down insurance prices for all citizens
  • Deductibles set at three percent of a household's taxable federal income, and
  • A Renewed Commitment to Cover all uninsured children and working parents.

I'm looking forward to seeing Sicko soon, and I hope it will serve as the kind of wake-up call for Washington on the need for serious health-care reform that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth has been on the urgent issue of global warming.

Everyone knows our health care system is broken. And there's no longer any mystery about why. Rising health care costs have outpaced wages. Solid middle-class families are being squeezed. How can people afford to purchase insurance policies when the average premiums are about $12,000 a year for a family of four?

People simply don't have the money.

Here's my bottom line: No citizen -- rich or poor, young or old -- should be denied access to affordable health care. Period. And no business should be be pushed to the brink of bankruptcy simply because it cares for its employees.

After more than 25 years helping to heal the wounds of families in my District, I understand our health care crisis is beyond a Band-Aid remedy. I'm pro-cure, and so are American families. Washington should be, too.

And until it is, I will decline my Congressional health coverage.