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Rob Woodall Won't Give Up Government Health Care 'Because It's Free'
WASHINGTON -- Moments after preaching extreme self-reliance to one of his constituents, a Georgia Republican told a gathering in his district that he will continue to rely on government-subsidized health care "because it's free."
Freshman Rep. Rob Woodall, who served as chief of staff to his predecessor, made national news earlier this week for comments he made, captured on video by Patch.com, to a retired constituent who told him her company does not provide retiree benefits.
"Hear yourself, ma'am. Hear yourself," Woodall told the woman. "You want the government to take care of you, because your employer decided not to take care of you. My question is, 'When do I decide I'm going to take care of me?'"
The exchange continued. In video provided to HuffPost by another constituent, Woodall was asked why -- if he believes in such self reliance -- he doesn't forgo his government health care plan.
"I have a question about taking care of you. You have government subsidized health care, but you are not obligated to take that if you don't want to. Why aren't you going out on the free market in the state where you're a resident and buy your own health care? Be an example," said a constituent in the new video.
"Your question is," Woodall responded, "my government's willing to give me lots and lots of stuff for free and why don't I take it?"
The woman followed up. "Why aren't you leading by example, and go and get it in a single-subscriber plan, like you want everybody else to have, because you want to end employer-sponsored health plans and government-sponsored health plans. You said so in a letter to me, that your goal is to get rid of the employer-sponsored health care [system]. So why aren't you leading by example and go out yourself, decline the government health plan and go to Blue Cross/Blue Shield or whoever, and get one for yourself and see how tough it is," she said. "You don't have any pre-existing conditions, I guess, you haven't had any life-threatening illnesses like I had last year."
Woodall responded that "this is why it's good to have these conversations, because there's some bad information out there."
But his constituent presses him further. "Answer the question: Why haven't you gone out and got it?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I did. It's because it's free. It's because it's free," he said. "The same reason I went out to Walgreen's and bought ActivOn and I don't have any arthritis pain: Because it's free. Folks, if you give people things for free, don't blame them for taking them."
On Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded to the initial Woodall video by telling the Washington Post that the congressman "lays bare" the GOP approach to health care. "No matter how hard you've worked your whole life, no matter how severe your medical hardship, the Republican motto is clear: You're on your own. This lays bare the ideology behind their goal of ending of Medicare as we know it," he said.
Democrats are seizing on Woodall's comments. The Democratic National Committee made sure that national reporters were aware of his remarks on Tuesday.