by Mariam Williams
During the first full week in September I wrote a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell, expressing my views and concerns about the national healthcare debate. His response – or rather, his lack there of – is disappointing at best. At worst, especially when I consider how poor in health and indigent the state of Kentucky is as a whole, McConnell’s “response” is the equivalent of him using the state he represents as a piss pot.
He sent a form letter. A FORM LETTER! While this is understandable for a busy person, it’s disturbing in this case because it shows that nothing that has been said in the past month and a half – none of the “liberal” perspectives, none of the heart-wrenching stories about people who have died or gone bankrupt because of the greed of the health insurance industry, none of the President’s speeches – has had any effect on McConnell’s resistance to full and thorough healthcare reform. I know this because, even though Sen. McConnell, on his website, claims that he spent the month of August going throughout the state to talk to people about this issue, he sent the EXACT SAME LETTER to a friend of mine ON AUGUST 11! The letter he sent to me is dated September 11. My friend scanned the response letter and posted it on facebook. This friend did not even write the letter that the senator refers to in his generic response. And we wonder why people feel like they don’t have a voice in government.
Before I continue with counterpoints to the generic response, I have to ask a favor of all of you reading this: If you wrote to Sen. Mitch McConnell and received this same letter, which you can read by clicking here for page one and here for page two, please write a handwritten note saying whatever you want directly on the aforementioned letter and then fill out the contact form on this blog. I will then reply to you asking you to mail a copy of the letter to me or to scan it and email it to me. Cover your address but leave the date line. I would like to send as many generic form letters with handwritten responses back to the senator at one time as I can.
Since it is a form letter, Sen. McConnell’s generic response does not address the specific situation I included in my letter: unemployed people who have pre-existing conditions that aren’t covered by their inefficient, self paid, non-employer sponsored insurance, and that they can’t afford to treat.
He says in his letter that “private companies couldn’t possibly compete with government.” I addressed this argument, and another argument that public-option opponents make that cancels it out when I said, “Opponents say, ‘A public option would obliterate private health insurance providers. It would be so good, who wouldn’t join a government-run health insurance plan?’ and then they say, ‘How could the government efficiently run a health insurance plan? It would mean long waits and more red tape for your treatment.’” He says the federal government would fund its plan through taxpayers, who are essentially an unlimited resource. So here’s my question now: If you have all the money you would ever need to run a health care plan, you could afford to make it good, right?
He says another reason a public option “would soon become the only option” is that the government could dictate prices to doctors. I’m not sure why this is or if it’s true, and if it is, I don’t see how it’s different from private insurance companies who negotiate to pay doctors and hospitals at a discounted rate. Granted, this does cause problems. Locally, the Norton Healthcare hospital system and Anthem, a health insurance provider, are in battle over how much – or how little – Anthem pays doctors. This has forced patients to a) switch healthcare providers, which we all know sucks because you don’t want to leave a doctor you like and you don’t want to have to repeat your history to a new physician; b) switch insurance providers; or c) pay the out of network price to remain with Anthem and with their physician of choice. I guess if we had a single payer plan, doctors would either make minimum wage and like it, make minimum wage and give me crappy care, or just not be doctors, and I guess that should make me shudder in fear. But knowing that people in other countries who have a single-payer system still get cared for makes me unafraid.
I find it very interesting that Sen. McConnell is concerned about the government limiting the amount of money doctors can earn, but he wants to limit the amount patients can obtain in medical malpractice lawsuits. Other than the obvious reason, it’s also interesting because there is no proof that medical malpractice lawsuits are crippling our healthcare system. A recent article in Business Week says studies show that “comprehensive, nationwide reforms would lower overall health-care costs by 2.3% at most.” In Texas, where the medical malpractice limit is $250,000, “health-care costs are still among the highest in the nation and are growing at a faster rate than in most other states.” This isn’t common sense reform if it doesn’t work.
I completely agree with Sen. McConnell on this statement: “We should encourage insurers and employers to expand prevention and wellness programs that have proven to reduce costs.” If my insurance providers’ underwriters had asked me what I eat every day or how often I exercise instead of only asking about the few things I had seen a doctor for in the past 10 years, they would have found that I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do to take care of myself and prevent heart disease and cancer, the sometimes preventable diseases that cost the most money to treat. And maybe they would have charged me less money (hahaha!). Again, Sen. McConnell doesn’t address those who are unemployed or uninsured, but on this point he’s right. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in this debate, it may be worth millions of dollars in treatment. If prevention measures included seeing doctors annually, adults would know about problems earlier, which means they could get treated for a minor, inexpensive problem when it’s minor, instead of for a major problem when it’s life-threatening. It would also keep more people out of the ER, that place they go when they don’t have a regular doctor and know their condition is at a breaking point.
Of course, a lot of the people who end up in the ER are uninsured and/or poor, like many of the people in Kentucky, and I still don’t know what Sen. McConnell’s plan is for those (his) people…
© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.