I recently wrote Mark Begich, one of the Senators representing Alaska. This is his response to me:
November 11, 2009
Dear Mrs. Sowers:
Thank you for contacting me about health insurance reform and a public option. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts regarding plans in Congress to address the complex issues of insurance and health care costs. I believe health care should be accessible and affordable for all Americans and I am working with my colleagues to explore competitive health insurance alternatives.
It is important to recognize there are several varying proposals regarding providing public access to health care. I remain open to ideas meeting the following goals:
o Make health care coverage accessible and affordable to all Americans,
o Contain rising health care costs,
o Provide choice for all Americans, including the choice to keep the insurance you have if you like it,
o Protect and strengthen small businesses,
o Address our nationwide health care workforce shortage,
o And make a serious, well-funded commitment to prevention and wellness.
The cost of inaction is far too high and maintaining the status-quo is unacceptable. Medical costs are out of control and now tie up one-sixth of the national economy. Without reform, by 2016 premiums in Alaska are expected to double which would consume 40 percent of the projected Alaska median family income. I am looking closely at all elements of proposals allowing access to a public plan, as I intend to be a part of the solution – not someone standing on the sidelines looking for reasons to say no.
While I understand the importance of competitive alternatives, I also believe the decision to include a form of a public option in a health care reform bill should not consume the entire health care conversation. There are many other important provisions in health care reform legislation. Insurance reform would provide Americans the security of:
o No discrimination for pre-existing conditions,
o No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays,
o No cost-sharing for preventative care,
o No dropping of coverage for seriously the ill,
o No gender discrimination,
o No annual or lifetime caps on coverage,
o Children continue to be eligible for family coverage through age 26,
o Insurance companies can’t refuse renewal because someone became sick.
There has been great progress towards a solution on insurance and health care reform. The House of Representatives passed its bill on November 7. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Senate Finance Committees have passed their bills. Currently, Senate leadership is merging the two Senate bills to produce the strongest possible version of a bill to bring before the full Senate. I look forward to the debate on the Senate floor. Following the passage of a Senate bill, the House and Senate versions of health care reform bills will be reconciled. I will fight for Alaska’s interest throughout these steps.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to make health care affordable, and will keep your comments in mind as I do so.
So, I took the time on this day, Veterans Day, to respond. This is a day we honor the men and women who have died for our freedom. The least I can do is to speak out against the largest threat, to date, of American Freedom. The “fundamental change” that is being proposed is indeed not worthy of what our soldiers, past and present, have laid on the line, lost in terms of life and comfort and stood up for.
Here is my response:
Dear Mr. Begich,
In response to your email, which was likely a canned response to those who are in opposition to the current legislation being reviewed, I would like a much more detailed response, addressing issues that you have outlined.
“The cost of inaction is far too high and maintaining the status-quo is unacceptable.”
The cost of the kind of change proposed by Nancy Pelosi is far too high. I agree that the status-quo is not acceptable, but if this is the best thinking that can come out of the legislators at present then I would not be surprised to see many losing their seats next election. Don’t maintain the status-quo, come up with something viable and efficient that does not bring about socialism in the United States. There are 100 Senators, I am sure that you can come up with something that will not be an infringement on our constitution. If this issue is so critical, take it to the drawing board and develop something which will remain true to our Constitution. The cost of the proposed legislation will not only add hugely to the American deficit, reduce even further the value of the American dollar and leave us in a worse position than we are in currently in light of the bailouts. Explain how this is acceptable.
“Medical costs are out of control and now tie up one-sixth of the national economy.”
Medical costs, are you speaking of Medicaid and Medicare? This quite frankly is the biggest government takeover yet. You agree to this? Explain in great detail, how this will reduce the medical costs. Explain in great detail how this will affect Alaskans.
“Without reform, by 2016 premiums in Alaska are expected to double which would consume 40 percent of the projected Alaska median family income.”
So if that is the case, what is the best way to reduce cost? Bring government into it? This is surely not a very cost effective means to addressing the issue, most government programs at best are lethargic and so caught up in the process of things that efficiency flies out the window. What about changing the current laws that regulate insurance companies at present? Allowing insurance companies compete with one another, allow them to insure people in other states is something to consider. Tort reform is another essential piece, however I understand that your party receives enormous campaign contributions from trial lawyers-so is that the reason you don’t see tort reform as a viable option to help reduce medical costs?
Pharmaceutical reform might be another way to reduce costs. Why is it that our pharmaceutical companies can sell medications in foreign countries for far reduced prices than the American people pay on American soil? I wonder what portion of funding for the Democratic Party in total comes directly or indirectly from pharmaceutical companies? Can you tell me?
“I am looking closely at all elements of proposals allowing access to a public plan, as I intend to be a part of the solution – not someone standing on the sidelines looking for reasons to say no.”
I am not asking you to stand on the sidelines saying no. I am demanding, as a constituent, for you to be part of the solution–a better solution than socialism in the United States. If you cannot see that the current proposed legislation is socialist, then you are indeed not qualified to represent the Alaskan people. If you do see this as opening the door to socialism in the United States and continue to regurgitate the canned responses and reasons for this “change” then you are even more unacceptable as a voice of the people.
Specifically in my original email, I asked you about the criminal consequences in the current legislation that your constituents would face, up to 5 years in jail and up to 250,000.00 in fines. Tell me specifically what you think about that particular issue. How exactly do you see the State of Alaska responding to criminalizing individuals who cannot or will not pay the government mandated premiums? Are you prepared to imprison Alaskan citizens who do not believe in socialism and will not pay the premium? How is this constitutional? Fully explain your answer.
”I will fight for Alaska’s interest throughout these steps.”
Explain, in your own words, what is Alaska’s interest? In fact, I would like you to have an open forum in the three major cities in Alaska (Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau) prior to you voting on any legislation that affects healthcare.
Do your part today, write your Senators. Write every politician in your area and out of your area. Start your own Town Meetings and discuss and educate yourselves. Do not stick your head in the sand, saying “I have coverage-It doesn’t affect me.” This “fundamental” change they are proposing is unconstitutional and will not be ignored! My voice will be heard. Will yours?
Until Next Time!