Specifically, I wrote her about my concerns & grudging support for the health care reform bill. (I have previously blogged about my views on health care here.)
This morning, I received the following reply:
Dear Mr. Wylie,
Thank you for contacting me about your support for health care reform. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
For over a year, I have traveled around the district talking with my constituents, listening to their concerns at town halls and Congresses on the Corner. I had roundtable discussions with doctors, providers, and small business owners - and throughout all of these conversations, one thing has been clear: the status quo is unacceptable.
Without reform, 46 million Americans would remain uninsured, and families with insurance would continue to pay a "hidden insurance tax" of more than $1,100 to cover the cost of care for those without insurance. Without reform, a lost job would also mean lost health insurance; health insurance premiums for those with coverage would continue to rise; Nevada small business health premiums would likely double again over the next decade; and individuals would continue to be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or face bankruptcy because of one medical emergency.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by the President on March 23, 2010, will provide security and stability to middle-class families by reducing costs, improving access, increasing choice, and strengthening Medicare. For those on Medicare, the legislation eliminates co-pays for preventive services; adds additional consumer protections for seniors in Medicare Advantage plans; immediately begins to close the donut hole that leaves seniors paying high out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs; and extends the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by nine years.
For those who purchase insurance through the individual market and for small businesses, the legislation creates health insurance exchanges where everyone will have the same kinds of choices as members of Congress. They will have the same access to quality, affordable coverage that large firms have and tax credits to ensure that health care coverage is affordable. For everyone, the legislation includes important consumer protections. For example, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage for individuals with a pre-existing condition or from rescinding a person's coverage when they get sick and need it most. Reform will also end the unfair practice of charging women up to 48% more for health insurance than men; end annual and lifetime limits on coverage; and provide caps on individual out-of-pocket expenses to ensure that a medical emergency does not also mean financial ruin.
In the Third Congressional District, the legislation will improve employer-based coverage for 637,000 residents, improve Medicare for 120,000 beneficiaries, and give tax credits and other assistance to some 213,000 families and 16,700 small businesses to help them afford health coverage. Additionally, it will provide coverage for 99,000 uninsured residents, guarantee that 20,900 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage, and protect 3,800 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs. That is why I voted and spoke in favor of the bill, which passed by a vote of 219 to 212 on March 21.
Although the bill is not perfect, it makes real progress by preventing the worst insurance companies' practices, closing the donut hole for prescription drugs, and giving families and small businesses the largest health care tax break in history, all while reducing the deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years. Where flaws still exist, I will continue to push for additional reforms.
With Nevada families and small businesses suffering under the weight of rising health care costs, something had to be done. I believe this legislation will make great strides toward reforming our broken health care system and giving Nevadans the assurance that they will have the coverage they need at a cost they can afford.
Thank you again for taking the time to get involved. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of future service.
Member of Congress
The "although the bill is not perfect" paragraph contains the evidence that swayed my own opinion into support for the bill.
Now, I know there are those who believe that this legislation will destroy the economic fabric of this country. They're wrong. At its worst, it will require a restructuring of our government's spending priorities. I, for one, wouldn't mind less military spending in order to pay for medical care.
There are also those who believe that this bill will create a system on par with the health-care systems of Japan or France. They're also wrong. At its best, this legislation merely installs some basic baselines of care and service while attempting to fund those changes through some revenue reshuffling.
We will see what unintended consequences occur. I can't predict the future, but I am a believer in the notion of unintended consequences. Hopefully, they won't be too traumatic.