View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Congressman Massa Sidesteps

A while back I wrote an e-mail to my Congressman, Eric Massa, about health care reform. I also spoke with a staff member at his office.

In my e-mail and comments, I said that I did support some form of reform that would ensure that all people had health care coverage, I stated emphatically (and repeatedly) that he should not support any plan that did not specifically exclude abortion coverage, and that did not contain a conscience clause for health care workers so they could refuse to take part in things they found morally objectionable like abortion.

This is the response I received (via e-mail) today:

Dear Mr. Strong:

Thank you for contacting me about the need for health care reform across the nation.

The U.S. health care system is in crisis. I know this fact from my personal experience as a cancer patient and from my time as a cancer outreach worker. Much to my dismay, I have learned that hundreds of thousands of families across this country are forced to make incredible sacrifices in order to afford necessary medical attention.

Because of this tragedy, I support the idea of a single-payer health care system in which the doctor-patient relationship remains personal and private, but costs and payments are centrally managed. We can reduce overhead and operational costs. Such a plan would encourage preventive health care, dramatically simplify paperwork and reimbursement processes, and reduce costs.

You may be pleased to know that I am an original co-sponsor of H.R. 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act. H.R. 676 will come to a vote on the House floor in the fall, and I intend to support it and urge my colleagues to join me.

I do not intend to vote for H.R. 3200 as it now stands. This is the so-called "Tri-Committees" bill, spearheaded by Congressman Henry Waxman. This bill, as it is currently written, does not do enough to reduce costs and cut fraud, takes over $300 billion from Medicare, and establishes costly and unnecessary new bureaucracies and commits the nation to a gigantic permanent subsidy to the private health care industries.

Thank you again for contacting my office. Please be assured that I will do all that I can to push for legislation that delivers higher quality and affordable healthcare to all Americans, and I will urge my colleagues to join me.

Eric J.J. Massa

Okay. He did respond, and he is not supporting HR 3200, the bill raising so many hackles because of abortion. He does state clearly where he stands. All good.

But he did not address my concerns directly. He focuses just on what HE believes. His response seems like just a form letter. Like letters I've gotten from other public officials.

Will he keep my concerns in mind? The impression I get is that my concerns are of little concern to him.


Blogger Ben Anderson said...

yes, it's a form letter and doesn't address your concerns, but it's still quite valuable that you sent him your concerns. It does matter - at least that's what they say.

8:35 PM  
Blogger St. Anne pray for us! said...

Here's my take: It's a form letter. He probably has 5 or 6 for each general issue. A staffer (probably using a computer program) looks at some of your catch words and phrases and decides which form letter (or combination of paragraphs) you will get. I sent an email --last week?-- pointing out that independent researchers have determined that, in fact, funds would likely be available for abortion coverage even though it looks like coverage is not available under HR3200. His response email said that he was able to inform me that abortions were not covered by HR3200!!! It was a form letter sent to anyone who mentioned abortion coverage. It missed the entire point of my letter as I asked him to respond directly to my concerns about stealth coverage. The "stealth coverage" issue is gradually being more exposed now so the representatives and senators are not quite sure how to respond so they just avoid it by picking up on something else mentioned in a letter. In your case it looks like the staffer picked up on your support for at least some kind of reform and so the form letter you got plays to that. Meanwhile he can truthfully say he is opposed to HR3200 --although not for the reasons you are concerned about. I'd be willing to bet I've come pretty close to how this all works.

9:24 PM  
Blogger David Marciniak said...

You have won the honest scrap award!

You may thank me, maybe not...

12:04 AM  

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