We fax and mail a lot of letters to members of Congress—often demanding robust flood protection and coastal restoration for Louisiana, and in recent months pressing for health care reform with a strong public option. Sometimes they write back.
Below are excerpts from several recent letters from senators in response to our letters about health reform. (All are Democrats.)
Byron L. Dorgan (North Dakota)
I do support a public option on a healthcare reform plan. . . . It’s more difficult than some suggest. Yes, we’ve got the majority in the Congress and the President in the White House, but it’s very hard to move public policy that does not have reasonably broad support among the American people. Coming out of out this deep recession there is a great deal of great anxiety and concern, and my hope is that we can build the support that is necessary to pass some good healthcare reform. We are trying.
Kirsten E. Gillibrand (New York)
I believe that by opening up a not-for-profit public health plan like a “Medicare for all,” we can ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare where anyone could buy in at an affordable rate, such as 5% of their income. . . .
Offering a public health care plan option to compete with private insurers is the best way to truly lower health costs, improve quality of care and ensure access to care in rural and other underserved areas. Injecting health competition into the health care market is the only way to achieve real health care reform.
Max Baucus (Montana)
America’s Healthy Future Act will provide tax credits to help working families and small businesses afford health coverage, and it also protects existing plans so that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. This act will improve insurance coverage by prohibiting discrimination based on health status or pre-existing conditions. It promotes wellness and prevention. . . . This act guarantees that all Americans will finally have access to quality, affordable care.
Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania)
Health care coverage must be affordable with assistance to those who do not have the ability to pay for health care. . . . The effort to improve health care should improve care in underserved communities in both urban and rural areas.
Health care reform should improve health care for those currently insured. . . . Reforms should also eliminate lifetime and annual caps and limit out of pocket expenses.
The creation of an insurance pooling system could serve as a model to provide health insurance to all individuals. The pooling system allows individuals to group together to improve purchasing power to achieve affordable, quality coverage for the entire population and to equitably share risk. A robust public option should be included in this pool, in order to create competition in the marketplace and help provide affordable choices for American families. I will continue to work with my colleagues for a public option once the legislation arrives on the Senate floor.
Editor’s Note: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York also replied in the past month or two, but we have misplaced his letter (buried under all the “incoming”). We regret the omission. For the record, Senator Schumer too supports a public option and, along with Senator Jay Rockefeller, also on the Finance Committee, he has been one of its most staunch and vocal proponents.