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Reform Healthcare Now with a Public Option: An Open Letter to the Senate Finance Committee

The following letter has been faxed and mailed to every Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee [1], beginning with Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the committee chairman. See below the fold for a list of committee members’ phone and fax numbers.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America.

After all, you just go to the emergency room.”

—GEORGE W. BUSH

LNW_USA.sleeve

Dear Senator Baucus:

Please help President Obama reform health care by supporting a strong public option—the best way to expand coverage and control costs. (What we really need is a single-payer system.) Please do not offer any “bipartisan” compromises (don’t drop the public option) to attract Republican support. They only want the Democrats to fail. To hell with ’em. Remember how many Republicans voted for the Stimulus bill? Voters will reward courage on the public’s behalf, but not cautious half-measures. Democrats, stick together.

Senator, I am writing to you as someone who for nearly a decade worked full-time as a self-employed writer and editor with no health insurance because I could not afford the premiums—and this was in the so-called boom years of the ’90s. I am willing to pay slightly higher taxes. I am also willing to see the very wealthy be taxed at a higher rate—and defense appropriations reduced if necessary.

For “go slow” members of Congress: Are you willing to suspend your own access to healthcare, and your family’s, until a reform bill is passed? If you feel a pain under your ribs, are you willing to forgo seeing a doctor until a healthcare bill is passed? Go slow?

Healthcare reform with a public option is needed not only for our people’s well-being but also for our economy’s revival: businesses can’t bear the ever-increasing insurance costs, so they hire fewer workers. How does that help employment and tax revenues? How can we compete with other industrialized nations?

“Fiscal conservatives” who voted for the $1.3 trillion Bush tax cut of 2001, to authorize the $3 trillion war in Iraq (Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz), or the costly Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 cannot honestly oppose healthcare reform designed to expand coverage and lower costs. (Remember, in 2001 the U.S. had a budget surplus.)

Senator Baucus, please push hard for healthcare reform with a strong public option and sensible cost-containment measures, and the voters will thank you in the next election.

Yours sincerely,

Mark LaFlaur

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