(Note: Dad e-mailed this to me and I told him I would post it for him - Resistance is futile!)
Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,
I am very concerned for the future of my country. I don't like much of what I see in the news about the goings-on in the Capitol. Each day, we are bombarded with stories about wasteful Congressional spending, pork-barrel projects that add to the wasteful spending, bailouts that only serve to prop up businesses that should have been allowed to reorganize or fail, and huge bonuses going to executives whose businesses would have failed had Congress not intervened. Some of those bonuses are being paid by bailout money supplied by the taxpayers.
I am particularly concerned about the current effort to "reform" health care in our country. I find it most alarming that so many politicians are telling us that "if we're happy with our current healthcare coverage, then we will be allowed to keep it." Those who are saying that are either lying to the American people or they are so naive that they shouldn't be in public office.
For this discussion, I will put the American people in one of three groups: (1) I and the majority of Americans are in the first group. We have healthcare insurance coverage that meets our needs and we want to keep what we have. (2) At the other extreme are the small percentage of Americans who, through no fault of their own, or through the circumstances of their lives, have no healthcare coverage other than that provided by Medicaid or the VA or other sources intended to help those with very low incomes. (3) In the middle of these two groups, there are many Americans who could afford healthcare coverage (as expensive as it might be), but who choose to spend their hard-earned dollars in other ways. I have no pity for those without healthcare coverage who would rather spend their money on big TV sets, cigarettes, illegal drugs, cell phone packages, new cars, and other luxury items that should take a back seat to proper healthcare coverage. Just the cost of a pack-a-day cigarette habit would be enough to purchase a basic healthcare policy for many people. I see no reason whatsoever for the taxpayers to pay for healthcare coverage for so many people just because those people refuse to see to their own medical insurance needs. I put these people in the same category as those who purchased houses they couldn't afford, but expected the government to bail them out when they couldn't pay their monthly mortgage costs.
I would understand and support a government effort to provide better healthcare options for the small percentage of Americans who are absolutely unable to afford it on their own. I would include in that category those Americans who have lost their jobs due to the current economic situation and, in turn, who lost their health insurance benefits. I would specifically not include in this category anyone who is living in our country illegally.
I do not support a complete revamping of our nation's healthcare system just because there are some who presently don't have proper healthcare coverage. Whatever action our Congress takes should be aimed at helping those who truly need help and leaving everyone else's healthcare coverage alone. Whatever solutions the Congress comes up with must be paid for now out of current revenues so that the costs are not passed down to future generations.
I do not favor any form of a "national health" plan. My family lived in England for several years, and we know first-hand what medical care was like for the English people. Their emergency room service for the injured and bleeding was first-rate. Those who weren't injured or bleeding waited for months or years for the routine medical service that we take for granted in this country. We know English people who were never allowed to have hip or knee replacement surgeries because they were old and it wouldn't have been cost-effective. We know people who had teeth removed rather than repaired because it was the less expensive option. It would be a huge mistake to follow the English down that path.
I am a retired Navy veteran. I devoted thirty years of active duty service to the Navy and my country. As a benefit of that military service, my family and I were promised a lifetime of free medical care. For several years after I retired from the Navy, we were shut out from military medical care despite the former promises of lifetime care. Our coverage by Tricare only covered a portion of our medical expenses. Not until the advent of Tricare for Life as a Medicare supplement did we begin receiving the promised free healthcare. Tricare for Life has been a blessing for the retired military. Now we are hearing rumors that our benefits under Tricare for Life are in jeopardy with talk of large deductibles and annual fees that would replace the current free medical coverage. I do hope that our Congressional leadership will continue to recognize the promises made to our military for lifetime free medical care to those who chose to make the military their careers.
There are probably several different ways in which the current cost of medical care in our country could be lowered. Reducing Medicare payments to medical providers is NOT a desirable way to lower costs. Reducing Medicare payment levels will only serve to limit the number of providers who are willing to accept Medicare payment. One way to lower medical costs would be to severely curtail frivolous medical law suits, including those brought by attorneys on contingency bases. Physician liability insurance rates as a defense against frivolous law suits are astronomically high and must be passed on to the patients. Another way to lower medical costs would be to crack down hard on those who abuse the system. We need more investigators looking into Medicare fraud. Medical providers with a record of submitting false claims should be fined and prohibited from practicing medicine in the future. Zero tolerance.
There are a number of other issues of concern to me, but I'll save those for another day. Included in that list would be such topics as:
a. Transparency in government... or the lack thereof.
b. The ban on hiring lobbyists for government jobs... or, what the heck; who cares?
c. Why are we giving taxpayer money to Acorn?
d. Why are Senators and Representatives and other members of the government who cheat on their taxes not being held accountable? Mere censure by the Congress is not the sort of accountability I have in mind. Are these people not subject to the same laws as the common folk?
e. Why do we bail out the auto manufacturers and prop up the auto workers union, yet we turn a blind eye to our nation's airlines and their union employees, whose pay and benefits have tanked since 9/11? Have we forgotten that our U.S. airlines are a strategic resource needed in time of war to transport troops and materiel?
f. On a related note, why do we encourage foreign airlines to fly routes in the U.S. in direct competition with our own struggling airlines? Do we not recognize that our airlines cannot compete on an equal basis with foreign airlines that do not pay their workers' health insurance, retirement costs, or even a minimum wage by U.S. standards?
g. Are we really considering the purchase of Airbus aircraft to serve as our future Air Force refueling planes? Airbus is a government supported manufacturer whose support allows them to build a cheaper airplane. Why don't we support our own manufacturers before we support foreign manufacturers? Can we absolutely rely on foreign manufacturers to supply spare parts in a war they might not support politically?
h. Have we considered that taxing our utilities and manufacturers as punishment for their carbon emissions will not have any effect on world pollution? In fact, it will make world pollution worse. Jobs and work lost here will only be moved to countries that have no emission standards and have no interest in the ecology. In considering such legislation, we must take into account the number of jobs that will be lost to Americans.
i. Any further spending of stimulus money (or whatever we choose to call it) should be geared directly toward the creation of jobs that have been lost due to the economic downturn or jobs that can be created due to new technologies. For the benefit of our people, Congress needs to announce the number of jobs that will be created by each stimulus expenditure that they make. If expenditures will not create jobs, the expenditures should be cancelled. Arguments about the number of jobs saved by an expenditure have little merit and even less accountability.
Finally, I am concerned by an apparent growing detachment from the American people by their Senators and Representatives in Congress. Members of both houses of Congress seem to be acting for the benefit of their political parties or themselves rather than for the good and betterment of our country. How else can one explain the actions of Congress that fly in the face of public opinion as expressed in widely accepted opinion polls and in seemingly fruitless letters to our Congressional leaders? There exists today a feeling of helplessness by citizens whose fears and concerns for their country are ignored by their elected representatives. I believe I speak for many who are losing faith in the current conduct of government. I need only mention the names of Conyers, Dodd, Frank, Pelosi and Murtha to illustrate the elitist mentality of many members of Congress whose actions are self-serving and the antithesis of what our founding fathers had in mind.