Food For Thought

"Labor unions would have us believe that they transfer income from rich capitalists to poor workers. In fact, they mostly transfer income from the large number of non-union workers to a small number of relatively well-off union workers." - Robert E. Anderson

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Party Line

One of my readers was good enough, recently, to forward to me the letter he received from Representative Steve Kagen, 8th Congressional District, D-Wisconsin in response to a number of letters he'd sent to his Representative.

Below is Dr. (yes, he's an MD, perhaps you remember the (in)famous "I'm Dr. Millionaire" debacle) Kagen's response (in italics):

Thank you for communicating with me to express your concerns about our nation's health care system. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me.

Interesting that he "appreciates" the time taken to share the views. He certainly didn't "appreciate" people "sharing their views" that opposed his at his Town Hall meetings. In fact, he seriously curtailled his meetings with his constituents after finding that those same constituents were opposed to his support of the Health Care bill.

I believe that when you finally see what is really in our new health security law, you're going to like what you see, for it improves upon what we already have: private health care - and it is not government-run.

In my talks with a number of people who were at the few Town Halls that the Representative had, he repeatedly failed to know specific sections of the Bill that they (having copies with them) cited. So one has to ask, does the Doctor actually know what's in it? His constituents made their opposition clear and yet he seemed to think he knows what's best.

As for "not government run", this once again shows a woeful ignorance of the facts, as we'll see again and again throughout his response letter.

"Peace of Mind," that is what people are saying when they hear that no onger will a family go broke or lose their home just because a loved one has an accident or gets sick. It is good for our health and our economy by putting patients first, strengthening Medicare, and guaranteeing access to care for all of us.

No, Doctor Kagen, instead they will go broke because they have been taxed to and beyond the point of breaking. And how, exactly, is this "good for our ... economy" when the law raises taxes on wages and investments... two cornerstones of the economy? Further, it puts such an onerous weight on corporations that it will cost them billions of dollars. Kind of difficult to keep a strong economy when you have to lay off workers due to the costs imposed on you by the government.

No longer will Wall Street-run health insurance corporations be allowed to discriminate against small business owners by charging them higher premiums than big corporations, or dropping you if you become ill. After half a century of trying, we finally applied our constitutional rights, which protect all citizens against discrimination, to our health care system.

Wall-Street runs the insurance companies? Odd thing to say for a physician, especially one from Wisconsin. You see, Dr. Kagen, you made your millions because of your "franchised" allergy practice. Which is due, in no small part, to the money from insurance. Second, last I checked, Wisconsin is headquarters, not Wall Street, to a large number of nationwide insurance companies, including Wausau, American Family, Peachtree, Thrivent, Acuity, All American Life, Allied Insurance, etc., etc. And they say that the Tea Partiers are full of rhetoric?

It's obvious that Dr. Kagen has a vendetta, as he also sees the spectre of Insurance Company conspiracy in those voicing their opinions in the Town Hall meetings.

As for higher premiums for smaller companies and coverage based on risk, perhaps you're unfamiliar with how "risk pooling" works or the concept of insurance to begin with. In order to be able to pay the costs, those with higher risk must necessarily have higher premiums. Artificially limiting them is like putting artificial limits on anything free-market (ask the Soviets how well that worked out).

Oh, but you said that Health Care isn't government run. So... those artificial limits are, what, Doctor... "helpful hints"?

In 2005, I promised to work hard to secure access to affordable care for all of us, with no patient left behind. Promise made. Promise kept.

Yes, Doctor. Regardless of what the majority of voters wanted, you "kept your promise". Sounds like you took a chapter from Senator Rochefeller of West Virginia, who said, "We are going to push through health care reform regardless of the views of the American people."

Here are a few of the winning ideas in this landmark law:

* No Discrimination against any citizen due to pre-existing medical
* Begins to close the "Donut Hole" in Medicare Part-D
* Small Business Tax Credits for of up to 35% of the costs for health insurance
* Increased Competition across state lines for insurers
* No Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage
* Full Coverage for Prevention Services
* No Dropped Coverage if You Become Seriously ill
* Guaranteed Insurance Renewal as long as you pay your premium in full.


114,000 SENIOR CITIZENS ON MEDICARE Begins closing the "Donut Hole" in
Medicare Part-D

No Deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses
for prevention services, like
and colonoscopies

17,000 SMALL BUSINESSES There is no mandate to buy insurance if
your business has fewer than 50

In 2014, small business owners may buy
health coverage at the same discounts
as big

475,000 PEOPLE HAVE COVERAGE Nothing changes. It is your personal choice:
if you want to change doctors
or insurers,
then you can.

186,000 FAMILIES WHO CANNOT Health care coverage will be affordable by
AFFORD COVERAGE NOW making subsidies available to those who are
in need.

53,000 YOUNG ADULTS Children can stay on their parent's insurance
plan until age 26.

$ 45,000,000 FOR 8th DISTRICT Increased reimbursements for Medicaid
HOSPITALS + PHYSICIANS and Medicare covered services in Wisconsin

Just a selected few (I could go on for pages, here) items:

"Small Businesses" - This is defined as anyone with more than 50 employees. At this point, you are required to enroll in the mandated Health Care system or face fines. And yet, this isn't "government run" health care.

"It's a personal choice" - No, sir, it's not. You cannot choose to opt out. Every person is required, under penalty of fines from the IRS, to subscribe to health care. Whether or not they want it, whether or not they wish to pay for it themselves. This is akin to Henry Ford's choice of "You can have any color you want so long as its black."

"Subsidies available to those who are in need" - Medicaid. Medicare. Badger Care. Apparently these don't exist.

"$45,000,000 for 8th District Hospitals and Physicians" - And now the "ah-ha" moment. Dr. Kagen, remind me again where your practice is? Oh yeah, the 8th District! How... convenient.

Thank you again for contacting me. Let's continue to work together, as we build a better nation for all of us.

Dear Doctor Kagen - You are not working with the people of Wisconsin. You refused to listen to their views. You've violated their trust. You have decided, unilaterally, that you know what's best for the people instead of the people themselves. You are arrogant. And your days in office are numbered.

I am working against you. I am voting against you. In the new vernacular, "I can see November from your house."

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