Republicans in Congress have raised the specter of a bloated, "socialized," bureaucrat-run nightmare of a health care system as a means of undermining the White House's effort at a systematic overhaul. And yet, as Democratic sources are now pointing out, when medical crisis hit close to home, many of these same officials turned to a government-run hospital for their own intensive care and difficult surgeries.
Also known as Bethesda Naval Hospital, the National Naval Medical Center is the premier branch of the United States Navy's system of medical centers -- as in, the government runs it. It's also the place where elected officials of all ideological stripes and political branches often go get surgery performed. Indeed, members of Congress pay an annual fee for the privilege of getting treatment at Bethesda Naval Hospital or, for that matter, Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It is, as longtime Democrat Martin Frost wrote for Politico, "like belonging to an HMO." Only, in these cases, the surgery is conducted at a public facility.
None of this has stopped some of the same officials who have taken advantage of this congressional perk from railing against the intrusiveness and inefficiencies of a health care system with greater government involvement.
But conservatives have long used the notion of "socialized medicine" to defeat health care reform efforts -- even though when it comes to the flagship Naval Hospital just miles away, the worries about bureaucratic nightmares, low quality care, and long lines seem to be wiped away.
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