WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Inhofe, who had emergency heart surgery early this month, has private health insurance through the benefits program for federal employees.
Soon, he and other members of Congress will have to purchase a private insurance plan through an exchange established under the Affordable Care Act.
So why was he talking in a media interview on Sunday night about socialized medicine and a single-payer system?
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, stirred up some indignant responses when he told radio host Aaron Klein, “You're talking to someone right now who probably wouldn't be here if we had socialized medicine in America.”
At another point in the interview, Inhofe referred to “socialized medicine like Obama is trying to impose upon America — that's single-pay and we know that's what he's trying to do.”
Inhofe's spokeswoman, Donelle Harder, said Tuesday that Inhofe was referring not to Obamacare but to the single-payer system that some Democrats — including, recently, Senate majority leader Harry Reid — have endorsed.
Inhofe had his heart surgery within days of doctors finding severe blockage in most of his arteries; Harder said research done by the senator's staff showed he would have waited weeks in some countries with socialized medicine.
Reid, D-Nev., said in a television interview in August that the country needed to get past employer-based health insurance and move to a single-payer system.
“What we've done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we're far from having something that's going to work forever,” Reid said on “Nevada Week in Review.”
According to Harder, Inhofe's current insurance plan is with the Mail Handlers Benefits Program, one of the options available to federal employees, whose premiums are subsidized by taxpayers.
Inhofe will have to give up that policy because it is not offered in the exchange from which members of Congress have to buy their plans.
However, he will still have private insurance. At 78, he is old enough for Medicare, which is a single-payer system, but he has chosen to have an employer-based policy as his primary insurance.