Congressional health care and playing pickleball |

Congressional health care and playing pickleball

Mel Walsh
Special to The Union

Now this is good news: There are 535 people in the United States with fast access to good primary care at the individual cost of 503 dollars a year. And, if they need it, specialists are available at no extra cost. So yes, it is happening. But there is a catch.

This excellent health care is not available to you, but to members of Congress, the people now determining the future shape and cost of your health care. But their health needs are already taken care of and right at their workplace at the Capitol.

This stealth heath deal is little known but true. Senators and representatives really do have access to their own onsite medical clinic, called the Office of the Attending Physician or OAP. There are no co-pays and they don’t have to submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. They just get care when they need it.

According to those who have seen it, the OAP looks like a small community hospital. As recently reported on ABC’s Good Morning America, the OAP is staffed by at least 4 Navy doctors as well as about a dozen medical and X-ray technicians, plus nurses and a pharmacist. (Congress people are too busy with health care to stand in line at Longs.)

Of course, with the low cost of membership, this Congressional clinic has to be subsidized and that’s where you and I come in. All hail to us taxpayers. We can’t afford our own health care, but we subsidize Health Heaven for our leaders. Let us eat cake.

If you’d like more details and see for yourself how GMA’s Dr. Timothy Johnson was asked to leave the OAP as he tried to report this story, google: ABC news OAP.

If you want to do something about it, write or call your elected officials. Tell them you only want what they’ve already got at your expense.

And then consider this next option – a little exercise to work off the adrenaline rush that comes from knowing more about the US Congress than is good for your body.

Pickleball is a game that can be played by all, not just by members of Congress. It’s a slowed-down version of tennis, played with oversize ping-pong paddles and on a small court. (Four pickleball courts can fit on one tennis court.) Doubles rather than singles seem to be the favorite line-up. All that is good news for those who still love tennis, but whose knees and lungs are no longer 20 years old.

Gerry Cosby of Penn Valley is trying to get a pickleball league together. (She’s already gotten something going at Gateway Park in Penn Valley.) If you want to know more, call Gerry at (530) 432-8081.

If you play, pretend the ball is someone’s head. Your choice whose head.

Mel Walsh is a gerontologist, author and columnist. Her book, Hot Granny, is available at The Book Seller in Grass Valley. Visit Mel at

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