I realize this isn't the most interesting topic and it's easy to get sick of hearing about it (no pun intended), but I think Healthcare Reform is probably the most important issue facing this Congress and the President and the one which will likely have the greatest and most lasting impact on all our lives.
Who knows if it helps at all, but at lunch today I emailed my Congressmen and two Senators asking them to support including a strong public option in the final bill. I thought it was important to let my representatives know that this issue was important to me given all the media coverage focusing on those who oppose healthcare reform.
Here's a copy of the cheesy letter I sent. Feel free to copy and edit it and send a message to YOUR representatives (you can find their contact info at usa.gov).
My name is [Meeg] and I live in Arlington County, VA. I am one of your constituents as well as a supporter of the Democratic Party (who voted for you in 2006 and 2008, moreover).
I am writing to you now to urge you to SUPPORT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION in the healthcare reform bill currently being debated. I still remember what it was like being uninsured for several years after I finished college, and my heart goes out to the millions of American families who do not have health insurance or the means to pay for necessary medical treatment. This is one of our great nation’s worst and most embarrassing problems.
Today, I am lucky enough to have health insurance, but I still run into hurdles with the insurance company dictating what medical treatment it will pay for. Worse still, I know that if I were to develop a major medical problem my current health insurance would only cover a fraction of the cost of treatment.
The health insurance and pharmaceutical companies are using all their considerable wealth and influence to block any reform which would reduce their profit margins. Right now they are basically the decision makers running our nation’s healthcare system, but we all know that they do not have Americans’ best interests in mind. It’s time for the government to step up and put a check on their power. Health insurance companies won’t start offering Americans better, more affordable coverage unless they have to compete with a strong public healthcare option.
I wholeheartedly believe that this is the most important issue this Congress faces and that it is the one which will have the greatest, most lasting impact on Americans’ lives.
I urge you to do the right thing, make the tough choice, and fight to include a strong public healthcare option in this bill. The media may be giving a lot of coverage to those who oppose healthcare reform, but YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT VIRGINIA VOTERS LIKE ME CARE STRONGLY ABOUT THIS ISSUE and our eyes are on Congress, on our Senators and Representatives, and on their voting records.
Thanks for your time,
SOME RECENT ARTICLES ON HEALTHCARE
I also read a few interesting articles on this issue today. First, there is the Wall Street Journal op-ed piece written by the CEO and Founder of Whole Foods. It turns out, I guess, that he is a libertarian who doesn't believe in a "government takeover" of the country's healthcare system. I was pretty surprised by this. I know that Whole Foods offers its employees good healthcare and other benefits (better than most big corporations employing a large "unskilled" workforce, I dare say).
Here's my take on his editorial: first of all, a lot of the reforms he calls for seem to do more to help out health insurance companies than anything (eliminating legislation which requires them to offer certain types of coverage, allowing people to chose health insurers who operate in other states). I guess this is all part of his less government, trust in the market, give people a choice philosophy. I would say that allowing insurance companies to opt-out of offering coverage currently required by law (I have no idea what sort of coverage he is talking about) would probably result in less comprehensive coverage. Allowing people to chose from health insurers in different states, however, might actually result in healthier competition and better, more affordable coverage for people -- who knows. Then he goes into the typical BS about tort reform....
Where this guy really lost me, however, is in the second half of the article where he denies that people have an intrinsic right to healthcare(!). Basically, if you're poor or unemployed or whatever and you can't afford to pay for the medical treatment you and your family needs, tough luck! I would expect more from the CEO of a company normally associated with organic food and fair trade and all that other crap.
Article #2 is from theroot.com and it suggests that the president has to stop "punking out" -- not pushing too hard on the healthcare issue and being so ready to compromise. I agree with the author that this is the sort of change that voters like me elected him to enact, and maybe he needs to start thinking about his supporters a little more and about the dissenting minority on the right a little less. Also, what ever happened to whipping your party members into shape? I understand that HMO and drug companies have a strong lobby, but the president still has a lot of political capital. Why isn't he putting more pressure on Congressmen from HIS OWN PARTY to step in line and back this key initiative for his administration??
Photo of Obama at Aug 15, 2009 town hall meeting by Ed Andrieski/AP.