Oh, by the way…

October 10, 2009 at 7:58 am | Posted in Congress, Healthcare, Obama Administration, Politics | Leave a comment
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I used Congress.org to write emails to my elected representatives on healthcare reform, and I’ve reproduced the emails below. I strongly urge you to send similar letters (but for best results, don’t copy mine). If you prefer, phone your reps: ask for the staffer who handles healthcare reform and leave a message. Or, write a letter. But do it, please: putting pressure on these people, showing them that public opinion is strong on this issue, is the best way to get the job done.

President Obama

When you ran for President you promised us a strong healthcare reform package with a robust public option. Like most Americans, I know we need that package badly: it’s important that we get it, and I care little about the politics and processes. I want it done. Now.

I worked on your campaign and voted for you, but I’ve been disappointed in your lack of aggressive leadership on this issue. Mr. President, the country relies on your strong leadership to get a bill—like the ones in the House—passed in Congress and signed into law.

Please: get it done!

Representative McIntyre

Healthcare reform will soon come to a vote in the House. It is a critical issue. Like most Americans, I want to see a bill that reins in the health insurance companies, makes them compete with each other, and includes a strong public option. We can do this, as every other industrialized nation does, and failure to do it would result in financial disaster for individuals, and for the nation.

Remember, Mr. McIntyre, it is the people who vote, not the corporations. And the people care about this issue. Like the people of North Carolina, you must support real, robust healthcare reform. Get it done!

Senator Kay Hagan

Healthcare reform will soon come to a vote in the Senate. It is a critical issue. Like most Americans, I want to see a bill that reins in the health insurance companies, makes them compete with each other, and includes a strong public option. We can do this, as every other industrialized nation does, and failure to do it would result in financial disaster for individuals, and for the nation.

Remember, Ms. Hagan, it is the people who vote, not the corporations. And the people care about this issue. Like the people of North Carolina, you must support real, robust healthcare reform. Get it done!

Senator Richard Burr

Healthcare reform will soon come to a vote in the Senate. It is a critical issue. Like most Americans, I want to see a bill that reins in the health insurance companies, makes them compete with each other, and includes a strong public option. We can do this, as every other industrialized nation does, and failure to do it would result in financial disaster for individuals, and for the nation.

Mr. Burr, you have voted against virtually every piece of legislation since January. That’s childish, and it’s not what you were elected to do. Remember: it is the people who vote, not the corporations. And the people care about this issue. Like the people of North Carolina, you must support real, robust healthcare reform. Get it done!

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Make it happen

October 9, 2009 at 6:57 am | Posted in Congress, Healthcare, Politics | Leave a comment
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It’s a matter of life and death. Literally. 45,000 Americans died last year because they didn’t have health insurance. Many of them couldn’t afford it: premiums have been rising four times faster than wages.

Even if you don’t die from lack of health insurance you’re going to suffer: the cost of healthcare causes well over a million bankruptcies a year, and causes 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes each year.

Meanwhile, mergers and acquisitions resulted in a situation where there is little or no competition in most markets. Health insurance company profits rose more than 400% between 2000 and 2007. Premiums increased, coverage decreased, and it became harder and harder to get claims paid.

Quite simply, the problem is that the health insurance companies are not competing with each other. They’re ripping you off. They’re ripping your employer off. They’re acting like…a cartel. The result is pain, death, and financial ruin for individuals and problems for the economy.

It has to stop, and it has to stop now. It is a matter of public safety, like defense against attacks by other countries and terrorists, from criminals, and from natural disasters. Without real healthcare reform we are unsafe, and the longer we wait for reform the less safe we are.

Extending coverage to everybody is complex, but like every other industrialized nation we can do it. It will be expensive—but we can reduce the cost of healthcare by getting rid of inefficiencies, fraud, and misuse of resources. We can reduce the cost of healthcare by reducing the cost of health insurance: by regulating the insurance companies instead of subsidizing them, and most important, making them compete with each other.

Making the insurance companies compete is easier than you think. We need to set up a national health insurance exchange that would allow people (and employers) to choose among many companies competing on a level playing field. We need to add a new player to that field: a Medicare-like plan that would be available as another choice to everybody, that would be self-supporting like all the other insurance companies, but that would be run by the same people who bring you Medicare.

Yes, run by the government. Run by the people who are supposed to defend the country from attacks by foreign countries and by terrorists, who are supposed to leap in to lead the recovery from natural disasters, who provide medical care for wounded veterans, and who provide pensions and medical insurance to millions of Americans who are over 65 through Social Security and Medicare. That’s what government is supposed to do, and providing a self-supporting plan for anybody who wants it is a logical extension of what government already does.

There are healthcare reform bills in Congress that do, or could be amended to do these things. But there is opposition. Not surprisingly, much of that opposition comes from the health insurance companies, who spent something like a billion dollars a day during August, lobbying against reform and financing “grass roots” opposition to reform.

In Congress some of the opposition comes from the Republicans, who have voted en masse against almost every piece of legislation since January, simply because we have a Democratic president. Some of the opposition comes from “Blue Dog” Democrats who are in the pockets of the health insurance companies, or have problems with the proposed legislation.

Lobbying the Republicans is useless. They have said they’ll vote against the healthcare reform bills no matter what is in them. But there are plenty of senators and representatives who are Democrats or independents. They are the ones who will pass a bill. It is up to us—to you and to me—to see that they pass a good bill. A bill that reins in the insurance companies and makes them compete. A bill that offers a robust public option (the Medicare-like plan I talked about above). A bill that extends coverage to as many people as is humanly possible.

Please…call, write, or email your senators, your representative, and our president. Tell them you want a strong healthcare reform bill—with a robust public option—that will extend coverage and reduce healthcare premiums.

You can’t afford not to.

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