Freshman becomes fifteenth House Republican to turn down federal health plan

Freshman Rep. Cory Gardner (Colo.) became the fifteenth House Republican to turn down the government-sponsored health insurance available to lawmakers.

Gardner, who defeated one-term Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.) in November, is keeping his independent health insurance, for which he pays out-of-pocket.

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“Rep. Gardner and his wife pay for their plan out of pocket. It’s not provided through his family’s business or her job,” Gardner spokeswoman Rachel Boxer told the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Republicans who staunchly opposed President Obama's healthcare law have come under pressure from Democrats and liberal activist groups to decline their government healthcare benefits.

Like other members of his party, Gardner campaigned in opposition to the healthcare law and voted with his party to repeal the bill last week. The strategy helped Republicans come away with big victories during the midterm elections.

But Democrats have kept up the heat on Republicans over the healthcare plan ever since the November elections. President Obama spoke at a healthcare convention on Friday and ridiculed Republican arguments against the law.

"You may have heard this is a job-killing, granny-threatening, budget-busting monstrosity," he said. "That just doesn't match up to the reality. ...And I can report that granny is safe."

The 14 other House Republicans who have turned down their coverage available through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan are Reps. Mike Kelly (Pa.), Joe Walsh (Ill.), Sandy Adams (Fla.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), Bill Johnson (Ohio), David McKinley (W.Va.), Rich Nugent (Fla.), Scott Rigell (Va.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.) and Daniel Webster (Fla.).

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