Friday, December 4, 2009

Letter From VA Congressman On Health Care Reform

First, here is the letter I just received in my email inbox (following this is my email reply):

Dear Mr. McDonald,

Thank you for contacting me with respect to the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962). I appreciate the opportunity to hear your views on this important legislation.

My approach to dealing with the issue of health care reform has been to listen to you, my constituents. Through town hall meetings, telephone town halls, e-mails, letters, phone calls, and even over lunch at neighborhood diners, I have heard from thousands of constituents. >From that interaction, I learned that Northern Virginia families and businesses want health care reform that lowers costs, increases choice, improves quality of care, and provides peace of mind.

H.R. 3962, while far from perfect, ultimately met those tests and that is why I supported it. Below, I have laid out some of its provisions.

Lower Costs

o Eliminates co-pays and deductibles for preventive care.

o Strengthens Medicare by closing the prescription drug donut hole for seniors.

o Provides tax credits to help small businesses provide insurance.

o Reduces the federal deficit by more than $100 billion.

Increased Choice

o If you like your current doctor, and your current insurance plan, you can keep them.

o A National Health Insurance Exchange, allowing you to choose from a menu of different private plans, with a public plan as one option.

Higher Quality

o You and your doctor make your health care choices - not insurance companies or the government.

o More doctors and nurses in the workforce to care for you.

Peace of Mind

o Caps catastrophic costs so families aren't forced to declare bankruptcy because of health care costs.

o No more insurance company coverage denials because of pre-existing conditions.

o No need to worry about changing jobs based on health care coverage.

You should also be aware of the impacts this bill would have on the 11th Congressional District specifically. It would provide tax credits to make insurance more affordable for 87,000 households, close the prescription drug donut hole for 3,800 seniors, allow 19,000 small businesses to offer health insurance for the first time, and protect up to 1,400 families from bankruptcy due to health care costs.

In particular, our seniors will benefit tremendously from the provisions of H.R. 3962. In addition to closing the prescription drug donut hole, saving thousands of dollars a year for affected seniors, it will eliminate all Medicare co-payments for preventive services like checkups. Furthermore, it will strengthen the solvency of Medicare, ensuring that this critical program is in place for years to come.

Finally, I was able to secure substantial changes in the final version of the bill that protect nearly all Northern Virginia families and small businesses from paying higher taxes to finance the plan.

As Congress continues to work on health care reform, I look forward to hearing your views. Once again, thank you for contacting me on this important issue. I encourage you to visit my website at to read H.R. 3962 and view numerous videos where I explain my position on health care reform in detail.


Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress
11th District, Virginia

And here is my reply:

Thank you for you email ((you spammed me about your support of H.R. 3962.)

Please endure my thoughts for a moment as I analyze what you have said here

Provides tax credits:
This is fundamentally raising the cost and not saving the cost. We all know what a tax credit is and how you pay for it.

Eliminates co-pays and deductibles for preventative care:
I have that today. You efforts have accomplished nothing if you are pretending to give that to me. The market already manages well the competitiveness of these health related components.

Lowers Cost:
The Congressional Business Office disagrees with your analysis (and they are more qualified than you to analyze cost) so you need to be honest about this. If the CEO of a Health Insurance Company misrepresented the financial state of their entity in such a way as to ignore what that companies accountants were saying, that CEO would be crucified both socially and legally by investors. As a tax-payer I am your investor. As a Congress-person you would be an officer of the public health option included in this plan. Any inaccurate representation of the financial analysis and budget of this plan would constitute a breach of trust and you are now culpable in your dissemination of misinformation. Expect that the federal government will be rightly sued by any and all tax-payers as the officers of a public health insurance company would if you continue to misrepresent the reasonable analysis.

Let's talk about a few additional areas of concern which bring into question the current state of your “analysis” of H.R. 3962:

You and your doctor make your health care choices:
My doctor and I make those decisions today. You are inferring that the restrictive control of coverage by insurance companies will be tamped down by this bill, implying that my doctor and I can make decisions about my health care that we can't make today. This is completely deceptive. While you are taking the power of some “coverage” decisions away from insurance companies, you aren't handing that power to me and my doctor. The bill hands the lion's share of that power to the new “Health Choices Commissioner” essentially now putting me and my doctor in bed with both the insurance company as well as the federal government. Applying simple math you have essentially complicated who will be involved in choosing my coverage, and not simplified it to me and my doctor.

Protecting us from higher taxes:
Independent analysis of H.R.3962 has proven that there are many new taxation opportunities created if this bill passes. Maybe you are hiding behind the idea that you will not directly tax us at the federal or state level, but we are all paying attention. From new device and service taxes to small business taxes, to tax penalties if we prefer to not participate in purchasing insurance, you are raising our taxes. Your letter is intentionally worded to deceive.

In addition to these specific rebuttals, you are also proposing changes to medicare and medicaid which are both analyzed as either not helpful or specifically harmful. Now, I realize that an element of reform may mean that any programs numbers will change, but in the case of medicare you are making decisions with which America is not comfortable.

If I were to give you a letter grade with regard to your analysis, you get a “D” at best. More importantly you appear to have spent more time word-smithing the grammar and word selection in your sentences with a desire to deceive people about these various talking points, as opposed to just analyzing the bill. I recommend you go back and study it again.

So far Congress and the current presidential administration have done an absolutely horrible job at estimating, anticipating and analyzing our troubled economy. Independent news outlets like MSNBC have called your optimistic analysis of the economy flawed due to real-world outcomes in comparison to specific estimates. Now we are to believe in your analysis of the cost and value of H.R. 3962 over the analysis of the Congressional Budget Office or other independent analysis? Not unlike the Congressional arrogance in imagining that the 111
th Congress can solve or better manage a health care company, you have made the blunder again in imagining we will trust your defiantly optimistic analysis despite the real numbers.

In conclusion, if a public option continues to get pork-barreled onto health care reform legislation and you continue to support it, I along with a number of other Americans will do whatever I can in my circles of influence to remain vocal about ensuring that you do not remain in your Congressional seat.

If you really want to listen to the American people, then stop the spending spree and do a better job.

Steve McDonald

P.S. I will be posting your letter and my response to my blog so other people can independently review the quality of your work. If you decide to recant and reconsider your analysis and go back to work for the American people, feel free to send me an email in reply and I will update the blog entry with your responsible political adjustments.

No comments: