Our elected officials can do their job best when we, the electorate, communicate with them. Here’s my letter that will be going out in Monday’s mail:
Sen. Sam Brownback
303 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1605
Sen. Pat Roberts
109 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1605
Rep. Dennis Moore
1727 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
I started my own small IT consulting company just over 14 years ago and have had the good fortune to still have a healthy business in spite of the setbacks when the dot-com bubble burst and the recent economic downturn. Unlike many Americans, I have always lived beneath my means. I started saving in my 401K when I was in my early twenties. I have no personal debt and the corporate debt is negligible. In short, I am in a better position than the vast majority of Americans. In spite of a lifetime of frugal living, there are two economic concerns that erase a lifetime of responsible financial decision-making.
The first is healthcare costs. Healthcare costs are the single largest corporate expense after payroll. These costs are going up at a dramatic rate. Although I can still afford insurance for the near future, it is clearly increasing at an unsustainable rate. If I should get ill, it could quickly and easily become unaffordable because the insurance companies can increase my rates to price me out of their plan. If I am deemed to have a preexisting condition, then I am priced out of the market completely.
Insurance is essentially a model for risk-sharing. If risk is spread across a large group of people, then no individual should have an unsustainable burden. As a corporate CEO myself, I expect insurance companies to make a profit. I tend to be skeptical of government intervention into the free market, but regulation can be necessary when an industry starts to use their wealth and position to “game the system.” The existing health insurance industry no longer shares the risk in an equitable manner. The current regulatory environment allows them to kick people out of the system who are deemed to high of a risk. Insurance companies are not sharing risk, they are pushing risk to the individual and lowering risks – and thus increasing profits – for themselves.
Elimination of exemptions for preexisting conditions is mandatory for healthcare reform. While I think the public option is the best approach I have heard so far, I am not whetted to it. If co-ops or other approaches can get us back to a level playing field for sharing risk, then that should be part of the discussion.
Speaking of “the discussion”, democracy works only when we have an informed electorate. You should all be ashamed at the level of discourse on this topic. I expect you all to stand up for an honest debate on a topic that is literally about life and death for all Americans. I got an e-mail, signed by Michael Steele from my friends at the Republican National Committee. The language is reprehensible. Phrases like…
Democrats are trying to strip us of more of our freedoms all in the name of their “government knows best” philosophy
…does nothing to further intelligent and honest debate. Since choice is a fundamental element of the public option, this policy has nothing to do with limiting choice. This is demagoguery. Since two of you are Republicans, you have a responsibility to me and others you represent to keep the debate honest. Do your job.
If the first concern for my personal financial future is healthcare, the second is an issue that is intertwined with healthcare. That is inflation. Deficit spending is eventually inflationary. History has shown that short-term deficit spending may be necessary for economic stimulus, but the current spending levels are unsustainable. We need to get back on a fiscally responsible track once the economy rebounds. We must ensure that large Federal expenditures, like any possible healthcare legislation, can be funded over the long term. While no one likes paying taxes, they are preferable to long term deficit spending, and should be accompanied by cost reductions in other government programs that aren’t effective. That, gentlemen, is a large part of your job and I don’t think any of you have been doing it well.
Policy issues, especially healthcare and fiscal responsibility, are the two issues that are most important to me. Incorrect or insufficient policies threatens my future and the future of my children. It seems to me that we have a President who strongly desires honest discourse and is willing to listen to opinions of both parties. It seems that we can all agree that the current aging demographics ensure that the current healthcare system is fiscally unsustainable.
You three were elected, along with this president, to solve these issues. Stop the childish and irresponsible rhetoric emanating from your peers and do your job. Solve this problem for me and the millions of Americans less fortunate than me.