It makes a lot of sense, actually. Senators can only be responsive to the collective interests of a whole state. The trouble with that is that a whole state of voters with conflicting interests can’t easily hold senators accountable. They can hold their state legislators accountable, though.
Here’s my congressman’s response to the message I’ve already published in a previous post.
As you know, the health care debate in this country is in full swing,
and I wanted to give you a quick update regarding where the process
stands in Washington, D.C.
In July, five congressional committees began work on similar pieces of
legislation that would drastically change health care in this country,
putting more responsibility for your care in the hands of the
I am a member of one of those committees-the House Energy and Commerce
Committee-where a 1,018-page bill was introduced just hours before we
began considering amendments to the legislation. Ramming bills through
Congress without time to read them has become an all-too-common practice
in the nation’s capital. That’s an absurd way to legislate.
I voted against the bill, H.R. 3200, which the Energy and Commerce
Committee passed by a narrow 31-28 margin after a rushed and closed
process. Five Democrats joined all Republicans in opposition. Hopefully
the House leadership will bring some sanity and openness to the process
and engage in bipartisan discussion before the bill goes before the full
House. I know that’s what Americans expect and deserve from their
Without a doubt, we need to carefully address America’s health care
challenges. There are far too many junk lawsuits that drive up the cost
for everyone, and billions of dollars could be saved by rooting out the
waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. We can create solutions
for small businesses to pursue affordable health coverage for their
employees, without raising new taxes.
But the current plan in Congress just creates more government and spends
$1.2 trillion in taxpayer money to launch a takeover of health care that
would mimic the models in Canada and Europe, where government
bureaucrats, not doctors, decide when you will receive the treatment you
need. Let me be clear: I will not support a health care system that puts
anyone between you and your doctor.
If the government takeover becomes law, as many as two out of three
Americans will be forced from their current coverage to a government
plan, according to an independent study. Up to 114 million Americans
could lose their current health coverage. That’s not right. If you like
the coverage you have now, you should be able to keep it.
Like I said earlier, reform is necessary, especially with the spiraling
cost of coverage that puts health care out of reach for too many. But
according to the nonpartisan head of the Congressional Budget Office,
this $1.2 trillion bill does not propose the “fundamental changes”
needed to rein in health care spending. It doesn’t even fix the problem
(17 million Americans would still lack health coverage under this plan),
and it adds $239 billion to the national debt. We can get costs under
control, but this bill simply doesn’t do it.
Small businesses would fund much of the new government spending through
tax hikes. A penalty equal to 8 percent of payroll would be assessed on
employers who are unable to provide “acceptable coverage,” a threshold
determined by an unelected government panel. Small business owners tell
me they cannot afford a punitive tax or the costs of providing coverage
to all their employees, and would either have to shut their doors or lay
off significant numbers of employees if this new tax is enacted. Having
owned and managed a small business in Oregon for more than 21 years, I
certainly relate to these concerns.
The plan jeopardizes the care that some 210,000 Oregon seniors rely upon
by drastically cutting Medicare Advantage. In total, the bill would cut
nearly $500 billion from Medicare, which results in $311 million in
payment cuts to hospitals and over $80 million in cuts to nursing homes
in Oregon’s Second District. One Oregon hospital administrator told me
his facility might have to close under the plan.
And government care isn’t better care. The highly-respected medical
journal Lancet reported that American five-year survival rates for
breast, colorectal and prostate cancer rank first or second in the
world. Survival rates for breast and prostate cancer in the United
States are 83.9 percent and 91.9 percent, respectively. Compare that to
the rates in the UK: 69.7 percent and 51.1 percent, respectively. We
can’t afford that risk.
In the Energy and Commerce Committee, I came ready to work in good faith
to make access to health care more affordable and accessible. Many of
our suggested improvements to the bill were rejected, including
provisions to allow you to keep the coverage you have if you like it;
force members of Congress to enroll in the same health coverage they
create in the government takeover; and block cuts to care for those
seniors who rely on Medicare.
The Republican alternative I support would allow small businesses to
join together to purchase high quality care for their employees at a
reasonable price, just as unions already do. For workers who do not
receive benefits from their employers, our proposal creates
easy-to-understand health-plan finders for workers to identify a plan
that fits their needs. We would cut down on frivolous lawsuits and root
out waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid that cost American
taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
I believe Americans sent us to Washington, D.C. to work together to
solve the country’s problems. When Congress reconvenes in September, I
hope we can do the deliberative and transparent work that can lead to
real, productive reform that this country’s health care system needs.
Finally, here’s a link to a recent article
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/08/column-americans-arent-going-to-buy-health-care-spin-mr-president.html written by the House Republican
Leader, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. His comments are right on target.
It’s an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.
Member of Congress