Taxpayers paid for Mitch McConnell’s heart surgery
On Thursday, Death and Taxes brought you the (abruptly misconstrued) story of how Mitch McConnell treated his childhood polio at a nonprofit rehab center funded by public donations sent to the White House. It wasn’t the only time the House majority leader relied on other people’s money for medical care. The Daily Beast recounts the time McConnell received an emergency triple bypass surgery in 2003 funded by taxpayer funds.
McConnell, at the time the Senate majority whip, was on a congressional medical plan provided by the Office of the Attending Physician, which offers senators and representatives free basic services for a modest annual fee (currently $503). During a routine check-up, McConnell’s doctor told him he needed a cardiac catheterization. The test results showed three of McConnell’s arteries needed treatment.
“My mind was filled with questions,” McConnell wrote in his 2016 memoir. “Would I survive the surgery? Would I feel like myself again? Would I be able to do the job I’d just been elected to do? I wasn’t used to having health problems, and I had no symptoms whatsoever. And yet here I was, wondering if the position I had worked so hard to attain was about to slip away.”
The surgery required costs between $1,000 and $10,000. Thanks to his taxpayer-subsidized health plan, McConnell didn’t blink an eye. He checked into the Bethesda Naval Hospital, now Walter Reed Medical Center, three days after George W. Bush’s State of the Union address.
“Shortly after five o’clock the next morning, I was taken into surgery,” McConnell wrote. “It lasted a few hours, and went off without complications. After one night in intensive care, I was moved to a private room, and a few days later, I could feel my strength returning.”
McConnell, sadly, turned out fine. Jay Leno even joked on his show about McConnell’s operation the following week, offering the senator that sweet catharsis soon to be deprived from 22 million people who could afford insurance under Obamacare.
“It hurt my entire body to do so, but I couldn’t help but laugh,” McConnell wrote.