12.15.2009

Open Letter to Senator LeMieux

Dear Senator LeMieux,

This statement from your recent letter disappoints me.
"I have talked with Floridians from Pensacola to Miami and without exception, people are concerned about this bill's proposals to raise taxes, increase health insurance premiums, and cut access to quality care. Citizens tell me they want Congress to scrap this proposal and start over. I agree. We cannot afford the government we have, much less the government this bill seeks to create. We need to be smarter about approaching health care reform and target those areas where we can reduce costs and expand access to health insurance."
I'm sure you are listening to people. The question is, "Who?" Your language is not conciliatory. Your language does not look the way it should after hearing the arguments for universal health care over the last few months. In fact it looks combative. Do you really need to mirror the angry white guys who yell at their TV sets? Are they the citizens whose wants and needs you are representing?

It makes me sad to see you take this stand in opposition to data from countries like Japan that have health outcomes similar to our own but have a mix of public option and multiple payors while maintaining much lower cost structures. These things exist and have been successful. We are in fact one of the last countries in the world with a high standard of living that does NOT include health care as part of that high standard.

You have had access to testimony from public health doctors whose job it is to evaluate and compare health delivery systems across national boundaries, but you have chosen to listen to the voices of special interests. You have had the unique opportunity to hear from a former Aetna manager what he did the last time publicly funded health coverage was brought up in D.C. You have seen the same strategies used a second time, knowing who funded the astroturfing.

I owned a general lines insurance agency from 1974 to 1994 and was among the most profitable independent agents in the U.S. for my size. I understand insurance. I also understand the people. Some of them are generous, smart, and successful. Unfortunately many are fearful and lack the confidence to move into a new economic model.

If we think there is a reason to have national education standards and we want children to grow up to be productive citizens, they must be healthy before they become productive. If we want citizens to be productive, we must keep them healthy and not support a system that by its very design prices out a significant portion of the otherwise productive population in order to keep costs in check. The current system fails to address the more difficult issues, consequently driving a system that has the highest cost in the world.

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