Being the Concerned Citizen that I am, I sent an e-mail to my dear Representative, Congresswoman Nita Lowey regarding the current health care debate. I stated my position as being opposed to the current legislation being proposed because basically, it is shi**y legislation that no sane person could possibly think is a good idea (though a quick trip through the blogosphere demonstrates that we don't have a large enough supply of lithium on hand). I also explained that I thought that Congress should concentrate on reducing health care costs before trying to jam another 40 million people onto insurance rolls because the already ridiculous national debt would surely balloon further. Finally, I asked my Congresswoman to answer three simple questions for me:
1. If this legislation is so great, will members of Congress and the unions forgo their exempted status, because if it is good enough for us, its good enough for you?
2. Will you address tort reform, which could significantly reduce the costs attributed to defensive medicine, silly jackpot legal awards, and the costs to fight nuisance suits.
3. Will you give me an ironclad guarantee that the legislation will not increase the national debt or cost me more money paying for other people's health care?
As with the other times that I have contacted Congresswoman Lowey, I received back a form letter that is basically a propaganda sheet straight out of Nancy Pelosi's dresser drawer:
Dear Citizen Zane:
Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts regarding health care reform. I appreciate having the benefit of your views, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
Over the past several months, Congress and the Administration have been working to reform our nation's health care system. Evidence of the need for reform is clear. Since 2000, personal premiums have more than doubled, now consuming 17% of the median family's income. Forty-seven million uninsured often forgo preventive care and rely on hospital emergency rooms for primary care, increasing costs for all taxpayers including those with insurance. Finally, health care costs account for more than 16 percent of GDP, nearly twice the average of other industrialized nations.
Without reform, these trends will only get worse: by 2019, the cost of a family health insurance plan will increase to an estimated $24,000 per year, approximately 45% of the average household income. The number of uninsured will reach 66 million - including 11 million who will lose employer-sponsored health care - raising costs for all of us. And, health care costs will account for 25% of GDP by 2024. In my judgment, the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable.
The House proposal for health care reform would reduce the number of uninsured and provide additional options for millions of Americans to receive affordable coverage through a health insurance Exchange offering plans based on the benefits Members of Congress receive. Private plans and a public plan would be available to those eligible to join the Exchange, which would initially include only uninsured Americans and some small businesses. Over time, eligibility would be expanded to larger businesses to opt-in to the Exchange, but no one would ever be required to join any particular plan within the Exchange.
Insured Americans could keep their current plans, and employer-based coverage is expected to expand with the creation of the Exchange and assistance for small businesses to cover employees. Businesses that cannot afford to provide benefits to employees would be offered tax credits to offset the costs. The plan would help to contain costs for all insured Americans by creating competition and implementing reforms for insurers, providing payments to doctors for quality of care - not quantity, and by eliminating billions of dollars of fraud and waste in our health care system. Patients and doctors would be armed with the best medical evidence and information to guide treatment plans, taking medical decisions away from insurance bureaucrats.
Some have raised concerns over certain aspects of the reform proposals, including a proposed tax increase, the coverage options for families and the cost of reforming the current system. I share these concerns and have advocated an approach that addresses each of them.
To minimize the impact on taxpayers, we must secure more savings from the insurance industry which has experienced a 428% increase in profits in the last nine years while too many American families have faced financial ruin because the same companies wouldn't cover necessary care. I am also working to ensure that this legislation would not unfairly penalize businesses and families in our high cost of living area. You may be interested to know that the levels for income surcharges have been raised to $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for families, which is expected to impact approximately two percent of residents in New York's 18th Congressional District, and any surcharges would apply only to income over those thresholds.
President Obama has insisted - and I agree - that health care reform must be fully paid for so that it will not add to our budget deficit. Reform proposals should be financed primarily through reducing overpayments to insurers, rewarding providers for positive health outcomes rather than excessive tests and procedures, and reducing fraud and waste in our health care system.
In addition to concerns about what the bill contains, many Americans have been bombarded with misinformation about the contents of the House health reform proposal.
o The House bill would not result in rationing of health care; instead it would stop the practice of insurance companies rationing coverage for catastrophic care, treatments for pre-existing conditions, and many common medications and treatments recommended by doctors.
o Our health care system would not be socialized because those who have insurance would keep it, and no one would ever be forced into any specific public or private plan.
o Medicare would be made more solvent by ending billions in overpayments for various services and reimbursing physicians for quality - not quantity - of care.
o Just as current law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving government benefits, the health reform bill would provide no benefits for illegal immigrants.
o Older Americans would not be denied care based on their age or be required to discuss end of life care with government officials. However, end-of-life counseling with a health care provider would be covered for the first time for Medicare enrollees seeking this service.
The House Committees of jurisdiction have completed the mark-up process of the current health care proposals and are now working to develop a combined final package. I strongly support an open and deliberative process and will work hard to ensure that Congress moves forward with a plan that makes quality care for individuals and their families affordable and accessible, preserves patients' choice of doctors and plans, and reins in long-term health care costs that threaten businesses' and families' financial security.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. If you would like to sign up for my regular e-newsletter or to find more details about health care reform proposals including explanations of common misconceptions, visit my website at www.lowey.house.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can help you in any way.
Sincerely, Nita Lowey Member of Congress
Well, at least I don't have to worry about the bill increasing the national debt because my valiant Congresswoman and the president insist that savings from screwing over the insurance industry and cutting fraud and waste! I'll also stop worrying about retirement because I will assume that social security will cover me. I know that everything that Nita Lowey tells me is not worth a lick of pooh. I suppose that there are some really gullible fools out there who actually believe this nonsense, but they were already predispositioned to lick the inside of the liberal toilet bowl and declare the contents 'delicious'. What I can't figure out is why don't we get on that cutting fraud and waste thing first and see what we can come up with. As for my other questions, well, Miz Lowey didn't think that they deserved a sniff in her form letter. I guess that I know where she stands on those issues. And this is how I know that the liberals are really not interested in real reform. Why would what any non-partisan person with the IQ of a venus fly trap not think that those were good ideas? The clever thing is how they are casting the Republicans as the gang not interested in real reform (which may be true too) and keeping the brain dead drunk with the Kool-Aid - Citizen Zane