Discussing what's right till there's nothing left.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Healthcare Fantasy by Niki Tsongas

If you want to peek into the world of make believe that today's left wing Congressman lives in, then read the letter below from US Representative Nik Tsongas, Massachusetts 5th Congressional District. The first thing you will notice is it's a form letter that in no way addresses whatever concern the constituent had. You can't tell if she's writing to a supporter or detractor of the bill.

Thank you for being in touch with me about health care reform and for taking the time to share your personal interest in this issue. I know how strongly people feel about this subject, and I've heard compelling stories from people in support and opposed to the legislation we have been debating over the past year and a half. I want to take this opportunity to explain my vote on Sunday, March 21st, in favor of health care reform.

Next she talks about the great care her husband, late Senator Paul Tsongas got as a result of his government healthcare for life benefit. She never mentions that the bill she voted for doesn't have the same benefit for us peasants that the royalty reserves for itself.

I know firsthand how providing access to affordable health care isn't a political issue, but a deeply personal one for every family. My late husband Paul waged a long, courageous fight against cancer. During that time, our family had the benefit of excellent care from extraordinarily able and dedicated professionals. I understand the fear and helplessness so many feel when faced with an illness in their family. But I have also experienced the hope our health care system can offer and shudder to think what our experience might have been if our family had been uninsured. I ran for Congress over two years ago because I believe that every American deserves access to the same level of high quality care that my family received. On Sunday, we took a step toward making that a reality.

Now she goes into how important it was to "rein in exploding healthcare costs" but never mentions what provisions of the bill do that because there aren't any.

For the last year and a half, Congress has been debating the best way to reform our broken health care system. This effort was born out of the reality that if nothing is done to rein in exploding health care costs, increasing numbers of families will no longer be able to afford coverage, businesses will no longer be able to offer health insurance to their employees, and our unsustainable deficits and long-term debt will continue to grow. These realities will compromise our country's future competitiveness, and perhaps most importantly, our own health and well-being. This debate about how best to address problems with our health care system has also been echoed at town hall meetings, diners and coffee shops, and at kitchen tables across the country.

Next she talks about how she spoke with as many residents of her district as possible but again leaves out that her town hall meetings were closed and held during the evening commute so as few people as possible could attend. More likely she met with as many union leaders, insurance executives and Planned parenthood operators as she could.

I have made it a point to talk with as many Fifth District residents as possible and sought their input and views over the past 15 months. Through my Congress On Your Corner program which has taken me to every corner of our district, at town hall meetings, during meetings in each of my offices, and in regular visits to the communities that I represent, I have had literally thousands of conversations with those I represent on this subject.

Here she talks about people in her district being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. Really? I though under the Massachusetts healthcare law, Romneycare, insurance companies couldn't deny coverage based on preexisting conditions. As well, all her constituents are required by law to have coverage.

I have heard from small business owners about how the cost of health care is preventing them from expanding their business and forcing them to seriously consider laying off workers just to make ends meet. I have talked with Fifth District residents who have been denied coverage based on a preexisting medical condition and the painful consequences of not having access to medical care as a result. I have met with seniors who cannot afford the prescription drugs that they need to stay healthy. I have met with doctors and nurses who would like nothing better than to be able to provide care to their patients based on their medical needs, not on what their insurance plan covers. I have heard from residents who simply want to keep the plan and doctor that they currently have. And, I heard from one of the district's major employers who said providing health care for all Americans is a moral necessity.

Because this health care reform legislation addresses these many problems and accomplishes many of the goals that I believe are essential to making our system of health care more affordable, accessible and sustainable, I voted to support it.

Again, none of these "facts" Tsongas presents below apply to Massachusetts.

I have heard from many of you who have been concerned about the rising cost of healthcare, and who have wanted to know how this bill addresses that issue. In fact, the bill takes several critical steps to address our system's out of control costs. First, by requiring insurance companies to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms, colonoscopies, and routine vaccinations. For example, if a senior chooses not to get a mammogram because she could not afford it, or because it was not covered in her insurance plan, she is at greater risk of developing breast cancer and letting that cancer grow, unchecked, requiring even more expensive and potentially less effective care later on. We can avoid these additional costs and this unnecessary suffering by providing access to preventive care.

Nothing in here about the review boards or about the cap on Medicare payments that force doctors to leave the program. And how will care be affected by the half a billion dollars in cuts to Medicare that the bill included as a phony way to appear deficit neutral?

The bill helps move towards a system in which we pay doctors for the quality of care they provide, rather than the number of tests and procedures they perform. It invests in electronic health records, which will avoid the cost of duplicative tests and treatments. And it makes use of comparative effectiveness research - which will help doctors ensure that patients get the best care possible.

Here Ms. Tsongas talks about how forcing healthy people to buy insurance will lower premiums for everyone. But in Massachusetts, where such a program is in effect, premiums rose faster than any other state.

It reduces the growing cost of health care premiums and co-pays by ensuring that health insurers cannot implement excessive rate increases, and requires them to spend at least 85% of premiums on providing consumers with additional benefits, rather than on profits and overhead costs. By permitting young Americans to stay on their parents plan until the age of 26, the bill will provide them with increased financial flexibility at a time in their lives when insurance is often difficult to afford or is not offered by their employers. This will also bring millions of healthy individuals into the system, which will place downward pressure on premiums.

Ever heard of Medicare plan B? What about Medicare Advantage, the program that closed the "donut hole" until it was abolished by this bill. Glad you brought up AARP. How much does AARP get for their insurance in reward for supporting Obamacare?

I have heard from many seniors who have been unable to afford their prescription medications, and who have been forced, as a result, to dip into their social security checks and their savings in order to afford those medications. Approximately 6 million seniors - 7,400 of whom live in the Fifth District - currently fall into the Medicare 'donut hole', the gap in which prescription drugs are not covered. This bill ensures those seniors will see that gap in coverage completely closed over time. In fact, seniors who fall into the donut hole this year will see a $250 check in the mail this September to help pay for their drug costs, which will provide temporary relief. Contrary to what some critics have claimed, the bill does not reduce Medicare benefits in any way; in fact, the improvements made to Medicare strengthen the program for today's seniors and future generations and are why the bill has garnered the support of the AARP.

Women are uniquely impacted by our broken health care system, and this bill enacts reforms that will have a tremendously positive effect on the lives of women all over our country. It prohibits the practice of 'gender rating', in which insurers can charge women many times more in premiums than their male counterparts, often for less comprehensive coverage. It prohibits discrimination based on so-called 'pre-existing conditions' such as a history of domestic violence or cesarean sections. And it prohibits insurers from denying maternity care to a woman who is already pregnant.

Small businesses across Massachusetts report that they cannot hire more workers or expand due to the requirement to purchase insurance and the costs that get passed onto them. nice try though.

Small businesses are not required to offer health insurance to their employees under this bill, but for those who do, they will have access to an Exchange where they can shop for plans that will be much less expensive than what is currently offered. This is because insurers will be forced to compete for their business in a transparent manner, and because they will be able to band together and use their collective purchasing power to get low-cost, high quality plans much like large employers have access to now. Small businesses will also be eligible for a tax credit to pay for 50% of the cost of premiums for their employees. This is not something that is currently available to small businesses in Massachusetts, and is an added benefit because of national health care reform.


Many of you have asked about how this bill will benefit Massachusetts, given that the Commonwealth has already enacted reform of its own. In fact, the bill holds many benefits that will directly impact residents in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Many middle class families who do not currently qualify for subsidies through the Commonwealth Connector will qualify because of national reform. For example, a family of three making up to $73,240 a year will be eligible for subsidies that will make insurance more affordable for them. Insurers in Massachusetts will no longer be allowed to implement lifetime or annual caps on benefits, ensuring that all residents of the Commonwealth can count on their insurance no matter how sick they get or how seriously they need to see a doctor. This legislation invests in more primary care doctors and nurses, which ensures that there are more providers available to care for patients in our state. Small businesses in the Commonwealth who offer health insurance to their employees will be eligible for a tax credit to pay for the cost of that coverage. Many of the cost control mechanisms in this legislation had to be put in place at the national level in order to bring down costs down in our state. Finally, Massachusetts taxpayers will no longer have to pay for the emergency care that uninsured patients across the country currently receive.

98% of Massachusetts residents have health insurance. That is a higher percentage than the country will have AFTER enactment of this horrid bill.

While access to care is not a pervasive problem in Massachusetts, tens of millions of Americans do not have health care coverage they can afford and that number increases by 14,000 every day. The legislation takes significant steps towards covering all Americans, while enabling anyone happy with their current plan to keep it, facts which have earned it the endorsement of the American Medical Association, Alliance for Retired Americans, Consumers Union, Families USA, Massachusetts Medical Society, and many other leading health care provider and patient advocacy groups.

And here's the biggest lie. Just today, CBO admitted they missed the estimate of solvency for Social Security by six years and this year it will run at a deficit. They missed the original estimate of the cost of Medicare by a factor of 12. Closer to home, we had a project called the "Big Dig" that was estimated at $1.4B and came in at over $14 not counting the liability for shoddy work that has already killed people. The republicans had proposals for competition, for tort reform and other measures that focused on cost. The Democrats ignored them all.

Many of you have expressed concerns around taking on this effort because of its cost, and asked me how our nation can afford such an undertaking at a time when our deficit is at a historic high. One of the reasons I supported health care reform is because I believe that reform is critical to reducing our deficit, and necessary to ensure our nation's long term economic prosperity. Health care premiums are growing faster than wages, and health care costs are projected to eat up more and more of our nation's budget if we don't get them under control. If we do not enact reforms now, at this critical moment, our deficit problems will only get worse.

This phony estimate is only because the doctor fix was kept separate and when included sinks this bill into deficit. That is the same tacxtic Mr. Change You Can Believe In said Bush did to hide war costs by keeping them off budget.

I stated when health care reform was first being crafted that it should not add to our debt and deficit. Not only is this bill fully paid for, it cuts the federal deficit by more than $143 billion dollars over the course of the next 10 years, and reduces it by another $1.2 trillion in the decade that follows according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Additionally, more than 40 of the nation's leading economists - including three winners of the Nobel Prize - signed a letter urging the swift passage of comprehensive health reform to slow 'unsustainable' health care spending facing our country.

So Niki is unhappy that a public option for a complete government takeover of healthcare wasn't included and that there are restrictions on baby killing. Abortion is the only healthcare procedure where two otherwise healthy people go in, one is killed and the other comes out with an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, internal bleeding, and lifelong depression. And to femi-nazis like Tsongas, that's healthcare.

As with any undertaking of this magnitude, the legislation is not perfect. I was disappointed that attempts to add a public option, which would have further lowered health care costs and increased competition, were unsuccessful. And, this legislation unfortunately contains hurdles that place unnecessary restrictions on a woman's reproductive rights.

But, overall, I strongly believe that this bill succeeds in expanding access to health care, takes many commonsense steps to rein in health care costs, and reflects so many of the concerns that my constituents have raised with our current health care system. It is for these reasons that I voted in support of this historic legislation.

What's the point of writing to this politician? She has a tin ear. All you get back is a Mother-Knows-Best form letter. thanks for nothing!

Please do not hesitate to contact my office in the future with questions or concerns. For more information on how health care reform impacts you, please visit my website at http://tsongas.house.gov and click on "health care" under the "issues" tab.


Niki Tsongas

Member of Congress

1 comment:

  1. Good analysis. I got this exact letter, too, and like all her responses to criticisms, she just puts out brainless Dem propaganda. She must go. VOTE 'EM OUT. Defund, repeal and replace with free market healthcare reform.