If you’ve been following the uprising of grass-roots resistance to the single-payer health insurance program (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) being forced through congress, then you may be interested in this exchange.
Here is what I sent to Senator Jeff Merkley:
I am a Lutheran pastor in The Dalles and Hood River. I can see that the overall system of health care we have now is not perfect, but I can also see that nothing is truly perfect in this world. In fact, the current system of health insurance is largely working, while plans to socialize health care with a “single-payer” system, where that payer is the government, will inevitably destroy the private health care system, and place enormous burdens upon our economy in the form of taxes, inefficiencies, and reduced incentives for productivity. That means people like I serve in the parish will experience higher unemployment, a lower overall quality of health care, and less personal freedom, as the federal government continues to assume responsibilities far beyond the powers enumerated in the Constitution.
Please Oppose Socialized Health Care. With many others, I will be watching.
Here is his response:
Thank you for contacting me to express your support for single-payer health care. It is an honor to serve as your Senator, and I appreciate hearing from you.
I believe there are many merits to a single-payer system. As a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, I voted for an amendment offered by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) to the Affordable Health Choices Act that would give states the ability to create a single-payer system at the state level and was disappointed that this amendment was not adopted.
I am pleased, however, that the healthcare legislation approved by the HELP Committee includes a strong public insurance option. I believe it is important that Americans have a choice between private insurance and public coverage. Specifically, a public option would provide competition to private insurance companies, helping to lower costs while creating a pathway to promote quality-enhancing and cost-cutting strategies to ensure the future viability of our health care system. Most importantly, the public option would ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health care, while allowing those individuals who are happy with their current insurance plan to keep it.
Further, the Affordable Health Choices Act would eliminate some of the worst abuses by private health insurance companies. The bill would make it illegal for insurance companies to deny health care coverage because of a person’s preexisting condition or drop coverage when it’s needed most. In addition, under this legislation, individuals would not be subject to annual or lifetime limits on their coverage or see it terminated arbitrarily as a tactic for insurance companies to avoid paying claims. It also expands insurance options and ensures that everyone will have access to affordable coverage no matter what.
As this legislation is considered by the full Senate in the coming months, please know that I will continue to fight for every American’s right to have access to quality, affordable health care, and I will vote for an amendment to the legislation that would create a single payer system. In addition, I will work to make sure the reforms of the HELP Committee are included in the final Senate version of the bill.
Thank you, again, for sharing your thoughts with me. I hope you will continue to keep me informed about the issues that matter most to you.
All my best,
Jeff Merkley United States Senate
It would be in the senator’s best interest to remember that the 17th Amendment has made every senator responsible to the individual voters of his state. While I think that was an unwise amendment, it means that the good senator can be voted out by the people, regardless of the values held at Salem. He is supposed to represent the people, which presupposes that he understand the positions of the people.
Well, he seems to understand one position anyway.