Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Response from Senator Blanche Lincoln

This is a the response I got from my Senator when I wrote her begging her not to pass the Health Care Bill. I thought I would have a little fun and reply to her response.

Dear Mr. Hall:
This is how the actual introduction is in the email... couldn't their tech guys mail-merge my name in the same font?
Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform legislation in the United States Senate.
I would prefer your acting on behalf of your constituents to your thanks, but "You Are Welcome!"
In November, the Senate brought the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) up for debate on the floor. This legislation is the combined product of bills passed after many months of work by the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, of which I am a member. For almost a month, the full Senate held an open, public debate on this bill and made substantial modifications and improvements.
I'm glad this 2700 page monstrosity is an "improved and modified"... kind of like my Tide w/ Bleach....
While the legislation before us is complex, it does not reinvent the wheel, nor move us to a single-payer, government-run health care system. I believe that we can build on what works, keep the insurance companies honest and restore the faith of most Americans in government's ability to do the right thing.

Unconstitutionally forcing Americans to purchase health insurance whether they want it or not, and fining them if they don't doesn't restore my confidence in the government's ability to do the right thing.... but then again, I am not "most Americans."
I supported the revised Senate health care plan because it would curb rising health care costs over the long term, expand access to quality, affordable, health insurance plans to more than 400,000 uninsured Arkansans, and reduce the federal deficit by $132 billion in the next 10 years-all without a new government-run insurance plan, also known as the public option, that places taxpayers at risk.

Thank goodness Congress is doing the difficult job of manipulating the cost of health care as specified by the constitution. By the way, how exactly do you make an MRI cheaper? A technological advance in production of these machines? Oh.... and wouldn't making a bunch of extra insured people likely drive up usage/demand for medical services.... doesn't an increase in demand increase cost? I knew I should have paid attention in Macroeconomics....

This final Senate bill also would change the way insurance companies do business. Plans sold through the new health insurance exchanges will no longer be able to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition, nor will they be able to raise your rates or drop you because you get sick. Insurers will be penalized for unfair rate hikes and must tell consumers how much they spend on medical care versus how much they spend on administrative overhead, including marketing and profit. We must put an end to the unfair practices that are symptomatic of market conditions that allow for little true choice or competition, and we must ensure that patients and their physicians are allowed to make treatment decisions based on the best science available to them and the individual needs of the patient. Bureaucrats, either in the government or private insurance companies, should not be allowed to interfere in care decisions. These are thoughtful, practical provisions contained in HR 3590 that I support and believe can make real progress toward expanding access to coverage and improving our health care system.

I actually agree with the part about "market conditions that allow for little true choice or competition" being the problem. But, how does setting up a public option that does not have to rationally react to market forces but can instead assume insane amounts of debt increase choice and competition? It won't. And with their profits being monitored by the "fairness police", there will be less incentive fore existing insurance companies to be in the market, much less new providers.

Additionally, Arkansans will be able to access health insurance coverage under the Senate bill is based on legislation I first introduced in 2004. Small businesses, the self-employed, their families, and other individuals will be able to shop for coverage from a range of quality, affordable, private insurance plans through the health insurance exchange to be established in Arkansas. Furthermore, I successfully pushed for an additional $14 billion in tax relief for our small businesses, for a total of $38 billion. Small businesses across the country will now get the help they need to access coverage, placing them at the competitive advantage large corporations have enjoyed. Approximately 50,000 small businesses in Arkansas, with 260,000 workers, will be eligible for the small business tax credit that I authored. I also

Perhaps this inexplicable gap in the paragraph was put there by the same competent team that couldn't mail merge my name in the same font.

successfully pushed to ensure there would be no mandate on small business to purchase coverage. This means that Arkansas small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will not be required to cover their employees. In my conversations with Arkansas small business owners, I learned that while many small businesses wanted to provide coverage for their workers, they simply could not find affordable options.

A tax credit. Excellent. Lets make all small businesses government subsidized!

The lack of insurance market competition has only added to the problems of rising costs and dwindling benefits. In at least 17 states, including Arkansas, only one insurance company controls more than half the insurance market, and in at least 22 states still only two carriers control half the market or more. That is why I worked to ensure health reform will bring new competitors into states like ours. Based on the bill I authored in 2004, the health insurance exchanges would include insurance plans, including at least one non-profit plan, that are sold in all 50 states, with the Federal Office of Personnel Management negotiating rates to keep premiums affordable as they currently do for federal employees.

That's awesome. Everyone knows that government oversight fosters competition.... except for when it stifles it....
The health care reform process has been complex, and there is an incredible amount of misinformation circulating on what is or is not contained in the bills currently under consideration. I can state clearly that I have not and will not support legislation that makes illegal immigrants eligible for any federal benefits or subsidies for health insurance, and the current bill includes clear safeguards that prohibit illegal immigrants from accessing such benefits. I have also worked hard to ensure that provisions in health care reform legislation would neither expand nor limit current law regarding abortion, and I support provisions in the bill that prohibit federal dollars from funding elective abortions.

But what if all the illegal immigrants were suddenly legal.... ala amnesty.... guess what I see in my crystal ball?

I have worked hard in this bill to ensure seniors will not see a reduction in the Medicare coverage and benefits they have always relied upon. I believe in the promise our government made to working Americans - that if we work hard, Medicare will be there to help us in our golden years. Medicare has made a healthy and secure retirement possible for tens of millions of Americans, and I am committed to ensuring that it continues to serve America's senior citizens.

I'm glad you brought up Medicare. What about the health care providers that are refusing new medicare patients seeing that the mandated yet unfunded reforms are going to devastate their business? How does that help Arkansas' seniors again?

However, there were aspects of the legislation that I do not support. Specifically, I do not support greatly enhanced Medicaid funding for certain states, like Nebraska.

You tell them Blanche! Only our pork is important. To heck with Nebraska and their pork!
At a time when states across the country are struggling with budget reductions and shortfalls, I do not believe it is appropriate to provide such special assistance to only a handful of states. I have strongly expressed this opinion to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and encouraged that these provisions be removed before the legislation is brought up for final passage. Instead, we should work to provide more Medicaid assistance for all states to assist them with newly eligible individuals.

Pork for everybody!!!!!!

Throughout this process, I have pushed to ensure the Senate is conducting this debate in a public and transparent manner. Americans across the country and certainly many Arkansans have been actively engaged in this debate, and I encourage you to remain engaged. That is why I have worked to ensure that the public has had access to the bill language, amendments, and supporting materials before votes have occurred. For instance, before I would vote to allow HR 3590 to be brought up for debate, I called on Majority Leader Harry Reid to make the full text of the legislation available online for at least 72 hours before the vote, and it was. I also built a "Health Care Resources Page" on my web site at www.lincoln.senate.gov where anybody can access the bill text, as well as the full text of any amendments brought up for debate. There are also links to reports and cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

When congress is working on the weekend, you can be sure they are up to something. And its not transparency. 72 hours to read a 2700 page bill. Thanks Blanche, you are precious.... I'm sure that you spent that 72 hours re-reading it so you would know exactly what you were signing. You know, just in case you missed a few words the first time you read it... You did read it, didn't you?

I believe that Arkansans and other Americans deserve an honest and open debate on how to best achieve commonsense reform, and this includes disclosure of any changes adopted as differences between the House and Senate bills are resolved. I strongly believe that any changes to the Senate bill must be approved through regular order, and I am opposed to budget reconciliation tactics that require a lower vote threshold in the Senate. I have successfully fought for transparency throughout Senate deliberations on health care, and I will continue to do so. I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation. We have worked too long and too hard on this reform effort - we need to get it right.
No last minute changes, for sure. All trillion dollar legislation that takes over 1/6 of the economy should be reflected on for a full 72 hours...

The concerns that I hear from Arkansans continue to guide my decisions on health insurance reform. Congress has now reached a critical juncture, and I believe the only way to proceed is deliberately and thoughtfully.

What about those who were concerned about the loss of their freedom? I guess maybe you had something in your ears. Or maybe your head was stuck in Obama's echo chamber.

If the House chooses not to pass the Senate bill as is, then I will work with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to identify the basic reforms that we can agree upon. I hope that our efforts going forward will be truly bipartisan, because the high-pitched, partisan tone in Washington is not creating jobs, nor is it solving the health care challenges facing every American, whether they be cost or access. My primary goals remain the same as when we started this process, to expand access to millions of uninsured Americans, change the way insurance companies do business, provide stability for those who have insurance and ensure seniors can receive quality Medicare benefits for years to come-and to do all of this without adding to our nation's deficit and placing taxpayers at risk due to an unnecessary expansion of government.

The problem in Washington is the Democrats and Republicans. I don't need you squabbling on the best way to limit my liberty. It shouldn't be done. Period. It is wrong.

In the meantime, Congress also has other important work to do to put our economy back on track. My number one priority is to rebuild our nation's economy and put people back to work. We can do this by providing the tools and incentives to the private sector to create new jobs and create a more favorable economic climate for the American people to prosper.

Blanche, this administration is not going to rebuild any economy. They only thing growing is the government.

These are complex challenges with no easy solutions, and I have heard from thousands of Arkansans who have expressed to me their passionate views on the best way to achieve positive changes in health care as well as their concerns with existing proposals. I remain optimistic that we can preserve and achieve the responsible, forward-looking reforms of the Senate bill. However, regardless of how the final stages of this process unfold, my first priority remains the people of Arkansas and not any political party or partisan organization, and I will not support legislation that does not serve the best interests of our great state. I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues on these issues to shape legislation that benefits Arkansas.

This legislation doesn't serve the best interest of anyone except progressive government expansionists.

Thank you again for contacting me. To learn more about my work in Congress, I encourage you to visit my online office and sign up for my e-newsletter at http://www.lincoln.senate.gov. I am proud to serve the citizens of Arkansas in the United States Senate and hope you will not hesitate to let me know whenever I may be of assistance to you.

Again, you are welcome. I am afraid that learning more about your work would be a wasted effort since it will coming to an end in the very near future. And then your twin, Mark will be next.

Blanche L. Lincoln


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