A Response to Mike Rogers (R-MI)

I am a thinking Independent voter voting both Dem & Repub. But, this email (see below) is disingenuous. I am always suspicious when a disagreement or challenge is all the other side’s fault. And no acknowledgement of one’s own weaknesses. That’s why our country’s business is mired in Us v. Them quicksand.

Nothing in your email suggests that Republicans who have goaded, obstructed, name-called and even cat-called (You lie, Fa**ot, N*#!er and Baby Killer!) other representatives (& the President!) wish to contribute constructively to the major, serious challenges of our time. I find that deeply disturbing.

Aside from the Tea Baggers, most of whom have not even read the bill, Americans are seeing through the Blue Dog and Republican chimeras. Hello? We know who won the last election and we know it is an election year. We see through it on both sides. I suppose if John McCain can sell his soul, why shouldn’t everyone else?

Your proposal, for example, to eliminate employer health-care mandates, when most Americans have employer-based healthcare, leaves a lot of people w/o coverage. Especially in this economic environment. I think you know that. I also think you know that by not requiring, strictly, that ins. companies insure people w/ pre-existing conditions that no company will. I have one word for you: Wellpoint. In the U.S., we have a totally upside-down application of capitalist/free-market principles applied to Health Care. It is absurd. The latter is one major reason I am disappointed in the final bill. My health, or any other person’s, should NOT be subject to this illusory and non-existent ‘free’ market.

Access to health care is not a partisan issue, nor is it a free-market challenge. It is a human right. That’s why I support a no-holds barred universal, single-payer system. I know from my own experience that these systems cost less and offer better service to consumers. For example, Canada spends about $3,500/yr/person on health care while the U.S. spends about $9,200/yr/person. And, while there is no cut-off or limit (except by private insurers), Canadians go to their doctors for free upwards of 45 X/yr (office visits). These visits are covered by the provincial health plans.

Rogers at a Tea Bagger Party

I have to ask myself, and have, why would the Republican caucus and Rogers oppose this bill? This reform bill is a gift on a gold platter to the insurance companies. And, for most intents and purposes, maintains the status quo. But that’s not why you opposed it. You opposed it bec’ your caucus has much to lose, given how expensive campaigns are, if you vote, even seemingly, against ins. & pharma. Most thinking Americans understand this. Which is why your caucus has gone so far out of its way to “Kill The Bill” w/non-thinking (Q: Why don’t you like the bill? Tea Bagger: ‘Cause it’s a government takeover. Q: In what way? TB: Well, they’re just going to tell us what health care we can get or can’t. Q: How is that different from what happens now with the ins. companies? TB: Well, ’cause the government is doing it. And they’re going to decide who gets to live. Q: Oh. Where is that in the bill? TB: Well, it’s in there. Q: Yes, but where exactly? TB: Well, I don’t know. I haven’t read it. Q: If you haven’t read it, then how do you know it’s in there? TB: I just do.) Americans. Scroll down the page and check out the Vodpod video, “Just How Informed are the Tea Partiers?’ (right sidebar, low on the page).

Politics is about the allocation of resources. In a pluralistic democracy, we have to play with others in the sandbox. I hope you and your party come to your senses and begin to think for yourselves (vs. covering your rear-ends). Unfortunately, the money in politics demands that you and other representatives campaign non-stop while governing much less. So talking points become your policy objectives. You can do better. Health Care, on my view, is as an important part of our nation’s infrastructure as are roads and bridges. It is also, as I said, a human right. thom

On 22-Mar-10, at 5:59 PM, Congressman Mike Rogers wrote:

As you know, last night the U.S. House of Representatives cast one of the most important votes in American history. Nothing is more personal than the relationship between an American family and their doctor.

As your Representative in Congress, I want you to know I listened carefully to the tens of thousands of you who took the time to call, email, or ask me a question on my telephone townhalls or at a coffee house throughout the district. Whether you support or oppose this massive healthcare bill, your participation in your government has been invigorating to me and is the only way our Representative democracy can properly function.

After carefully reviewing this 2,409 page bill, I believe to my core it will make our health care system worse, not better. For me, this is not about politics or scoring short-term points, this about an unacceptable transformation in the relationship between the American people and their government.

After spending $1 trillion, cutting Medicare by $523 billion, raising taxes by $569 billion, requiring every American to buy health insurance or face jail time, and creating more than 100 new federal boards, commissions and bureaucracies, there will still be 23 million Americans who have no health insurance. I believe we can do better.

Perhaps the most troubling part about the health care bill is, in a ploy intended to secure the votes they needed, Democrat leaders have pitted one group of Americans against another. The popular Medicare Advantage program is essentially eliminated in this bill, unless you live in Florida where Florida Senator Bill Nelson secured an exception for his state. So if you have a Medicare Advantage plan in Florida, you are safe, but if you have one in Michigan and you like it, too bad, because it’s gone. Another provision creates a $5 billion slush fund to help union members pay for increases in their health insurance premiums that Democrat leaders know are coming. So if you are a union member, you can get help paying for your increased premiums, if you are not, tough luck. If yo! ! u are longshoreman, you have a special deal. If you are a doctor in North Dakota, you have a special deal. Yet, if you are a middle class family who wakes up every day and plays by the rules and you have earned your health insurance coverage as part of your employment, there seems to be no special deal for you. I spoke about the health care bill during debate this weekend; these speeches can be viewed here and here.

It is no wonder that physicians groups representing more than half a million doctors oppose this bill. Employers and manufacturers oppose this bill. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops oppose this bill. The Veterans of Foreign Wars oppose this bill. And small businesses oppose this bill.

Yet, I certainly know that just saying “no” is not an acceptable or responsible approach to helping the 15 percent of Americans who have no health insurance or for the other 85 percent who are seeing huge increases in their monthly premiums. The status quo is indeed not working. That is why I have proposed serious solutions that would cover millions of Americans and lower premiums without the government getting in between you and your doctor. Those ideas can be found here.

Saturday, I offered 15 amendments to the Democrats’ health care bill in an effort to make it better. Unfortunately, none of the following amendments were allowed a vote by Democrat leaders:

· No Medicare Cuts. Strikes all $523 Billion in Medicare cuts from Senate bill.
· Saves Medicare Advantage. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to certify that no seniors will lose their current Medicare Advantage plans.
· Protect Social Security. Requires any new Social Security revenue to be used for benefits, not new entitlement spending.
· Keep the plan you like. Allows all health plans used by families today to be considered acceptable coverage.
· Health Insurance Competition: Forces insurance companies to compete across state lines.
· Help For Americans With Pre-existing Conditions: Strengthens state high risk pools so that they can provide health insurance for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
· Help for Small business: Creates Association Health Plans that allow small businesses to pool their resources and buy more affordable insurance.
· Ban Rationing. Prevents “comparative effectiveness” research from being used to ration or deny care.
· No Tax increases. Strikes all job-killing tax increases from the bill.
· No New Employer Mandates #1. Strikes the employer health insurance mandate from the Senate bill.
· No New Employer mandate #2. Prohibits employer mandate from going into effect if national unemployment is over 10%.
· No New Employer mandate #3. Exempts from mandate employers in states with unemployment rate above 10%.
· No Device tax: Eliminates the medical device tax, covering everything from bed pans to heart stents, from the bill.
· Protects Health Savings Accounts:. Requires Health Savings Accounts to be considered acceptable coverage.
· Student loans. Strikes all provision related to the government takeover of student loans.

Finally, while Michigan struggles to create jobs, the only jobs this health care bill will create are at the IRS. It is estimated that 16,500 new IRS agents will have to be hired to collect the $569 billion in new taxes on everything from heart stents to so-called “Cadillac” health insurance plans that were earned by working families.

You sent me to Washington to fight for you. I listened to your suggestions and concerns and weighed the positive and negative effects of this 2,409 page bill and came to the conclusion that we can and must do better.
Sincerely,

Mike Rogers
Member of Congress

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~ by Thom on March 22, 2010.

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