>So, I sent a letter to one of my senators recently about health care reform. I laid out what I wanted to see happen, and what he should vote for if he is voting for me and the millions like me who are asking for health care reform in this country.
I can tell by the letter I got back that he didn’t take the time to read what I wrote, and just sent me back a form letter, because what he outlined in the letter are things I specifically disagreed with him on. Of course, living in a red state, this cookie cutter reply probably gets him more positive than negative responses. *sigh*
Here was his reply…
Dear Mrs. A________:Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts regarding health care reform. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.Our nation’s health care system affects every aspect of American life and nearly every component of our nation’s economy. As you are likely aware, health care spending has risen dramatically in recent years, far outpacing inflation, leaving countless families with difficult decisions about how to best provide care for loved ones. Medicare, the vital safety net program for 45 million seniors and disabled individuals, is facing fiscal insolvency and higher out of pocket costs for beneficiaries.This is simply unsustainable. If left unaddressed, rising health care costs will undermine Medicare and make private insurance, which currently covers about two-thirds of all Americans, unaffordable to many more individuals and families. Without appropriate reform that effectively lowers costs, many programs may be curtailed or eliminated, potentially adding to the millions of Americans without any form of health insurance.I believe that there are four principles that should help guide reform: affordability, portability, access, and quality. Reform efforts should focus on creating a system that enables people to receive the health care they need at affordable prices. Americans want to be able to choose their doctors, coverage, and care, and to have the freedom to seek employment that is not dependent on whether or not insurance coverage is provided.I have several ideas on how to achieve this type of reform. First, any new reform must include an emphasis on preventative initiatives. An increasing amount of our health care dollars and resources are directed towards treating chronic conditions such as heart disease and obesity. We must promote prevention for those conditions that are truly avoidable. I also believe information technology should be used to improve efficiency and quality in health care. We should find ways to reduce the number of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits, which drive up the cost of insurance rates for providers and make coverage more expensive. Consumers should be able to shop across state lines for insurance policies, and take their policies with them if they move. Finally, we should make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible by allowing importation from other developed countries.The Senate recently considered Senator Reid’s health care bill, H.R. 3590, which was written behind closed doors without any input from a single Republican. While I will continue to support meaningful reform measures that will lower costs, improve access to quality health care and expand coverage, I cannot support this bill in its current form.One of my greatest concerns with this legislation is the staggering cost to taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that this legislation will cost an incredible $2.5 trillion over its ten years of implementation, with $1 trillion in tax increases and cuts to Medicare. The bill would substantially expand federal responsibility for health care costs without addressing the critical changes necessary to reduce anticipated federal health spending.Despite the increased spending, CBO has stated that the bill does little to lower premiums – in fact, premiums would increase in the individual market. I cannot support a bill that is financed by cutting Medicare payments by almost $500 billion, including $120 billion in harmful cuts to Medicare Advantage, and does little to lower overall costs. This is an injustice to seniors and does not represent the type of reform we need. We should work toward improving Medicare and Medicaid before we support cuts to these vital programs in order to fund a new federal health care entitlement.During the mark-up of the HELP Committee’s health reform bill, I supported an amendment which would prevent health care providers from being required to participate in abortions if doing so would violate their personal moral and ethical convictions. As you may know, I have consistently opposed measures which encourage or lead to more abortions, including the use of any federal funding for such procedures. The bill sponsored by Senator Reid, however, does not include these provisions.During the health care debate on the Senate floor, I fought for reform that was responsible and that we could be proud of. Addressing problems in our health care system should have been a serious bipartisan effort that included real and open discussion. It would have yielded a product that both sides could support, and more importantly, a product that the American people have confidence will address the real reforms that are most needed. Instead, we have partisan bills in both the House and Senate that advance political agendas, raise taxes, and cut essential programs and benefits while rewarding special interests. I voted against the bill, the latest version of which was unveiled after unsavory backroom deals were reportedly included to secure the final democratic votes needed in order for the bill to pass in the Senate. The final vote took place on the morning of December 24, 2009 and the result was a party-line vote of 60-39. Now there must be a conference process to merge the House and Senate versions of the bills prior to final Congressional approval and delivery to the President.Again, thank you for sharing your views on this important issue. Please be assured that I will continue my efforts to defeat this flawed approach to reform and restart a bipartisan process that can yield a responsible product that address the fundamental issues of health care reform. Feel free to contact me on this or any other matter.Sincerely,John McCainUnited States Senator