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U.S. Senator Carl Levin

Open letters to Senator Carl Levin.

And whatever else we decide to post here regarding Senator Levin’s position on health care policy.


An open letter response to Senator Levin’s article of 2/13/2011 as published in the Midland Daily News of Midland Michigan.

14 February 2011

Dear Senator Levin,

Happy Valentine’s Day 2011. As a member of the U.S. Congress, I hope that you have been and are enjoying your super-deluxe health care benefits. I did more research on them recently and find those benefits to be even better than I thought.

Following is your article printed yesterday in the Midland Daily News in Midland Michigan. Within it in italics and then after it is my reply, as submitted today at the Midland Daily News website. You can consider it to be a follow-up to the letter I sent you in the U.S. Mail last week.

Sincerely yours,

Bob Haiducek

Note: Sources and references to more information are at “Additional Information”, below. Segments of what is on this web page were posted in the Comments section of the Midland Daily News website.

Your Article

Myths behind drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Myths behind drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act By Sen. Carl Levin Midland Daily News; Posted: Sunday, February 13, 2011 7:00 am | Updated: 3:47 am, Sun Feb 13, 2011.

One of the Senate’s first significant votes of the year was on an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform that became law last year. I believe the attempt to repeal it stemmed from a number of myths about the law.

Some opponents said the new law amounts to a “government takeover” of health care. Some said it violates the Constitution. Others said it will cut the benefits on which Medicare recipients depend, or will explode the deficit, or will kill jobs.

If such a law existed, I’d want to repeal it too. Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act does none of those things.

This law does not take over the health care system; it strengthens and protects our existing private health insurance system. The independent fact checkers at Politifact.com found that the law “is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market,” and called the claim that government would take over the system Politifact’s “Lie of the Year.”

The new law does not violate the Constitution. Opponents claim that the law violates the Constitution because it requires citizens to purchase insurance. Under their arguments, many other programs, including Medicare, would also violate the Constitution. Perhaps that is what these opponents believe, but it is emphatically not what most Americans believe, and it is contrary to decades of legal precedent.

This law does not reduce care for Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, most Medicare recipients already enjoy expanded benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare beneficiaries now receive preventive care such as annual check-ups with no out-of-pocket costs; and starting last year this law began to shrink the “donut hole” that hits so many seniors with significant drug costs. The law strengthens Medicare by beginning to rein in the enormous costs that threaten to swamp the system in coming years, and it does so by encouraging efficiency and reducing waste and abuse.

The Affordable Care Act does not explode the deficit. The independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $143 billion over the first decade and by significantly more in the years to follow. It was ironic in the extreme that members of Congress who say they want to reduce the deficit would try to add $143 billion to that deficit as their first major action of the year.

Response: There are enough variations of economic reports now that each member of Congress can pick and choose their favorite one, can’t they? You misrepresented the reports provided to you by not communicating that the chief auditor of Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services and his staff examined the law immediately after it was passed. Their detailed report documents that the Affordable Care Act will cost us over $300 billion over ten years. And they reported that the March 2010 law (the Affordable Care Act of 2010) leaves 23 million uninsured, thus documenting that it is a health-care-NOT-for-all system. Why didn’t you report those facts to your constituents? After all, a law this massive that is expanding bureaucracy instead of shrinking it is going to cost Americans in money and hardships. To state otherwise makes no common sense, Senator, no matter what economic analysis you want to reference. For information go to this reference. I suggest that instead of spending $300 billion over 10 years that we save over $400 billion every year … yes, that’s every year … via improving efficiency and gaining the benefits that Americans living and working in other free-market countries not only understand and experience but for which they have provided their testimonials.

By the way the efficiency can and will be achieved with Improved Medicare for All will save us over $400 billion every year. Perhaps you should consider educating your constituents with that information.

This law does not kill jobs. Again, independent observers have dismissed this claim as patently false. The independent FactCheck.org called the claim “exaggerated and misleading” and said the law’s opponents have “badly misrepresented” findings by the Congressional Budget Office in making their arguments.

Response: Perhaps the Republicans are getting a bit to emotional about this. Perhaps you are too, Senator Levin. Let’s look at the facts. Yes, it will kill jobs. Did you read that Factcheck.org link to which you referred us? If you have not, perhaps you should. Some key words follow: “One leading health care expert, John Sheils of The Lewin Group, puts the loss at between 150,000 and 300,000 jobs, at or near the minimum wage. And Sheils says that relatively small loss would be partly offset by gains in the health care industry.”

Relatively small loss, indeed, Senator! Don’t you think that matters to the COUPLE of HUNDRED THOUSAND WORKERS who are at or near the minimum wage and who cannot afford to read your grandiose words about the health care law? You know, those poor blokes that cannot afford the newspapers to which you sent your article.

A primary question of mine is this: Do you care about the income or the health care or the health of any of those hundreds of thousands of people?

Instead, you could be promoting More Jobs and Better Health via a health-care-for-all system via Improved Medicare for All via single-payer health care. In fact, if you do not do that you will essentially be promoting the success of what is called “medical tourism”, since it is projected that within a few years 1.6 million patients will leave the U.S. to get care and 0.5 million patients will come from other countries to the u.S. to get care.

Here’s what the Affordable Care Act does, in fact, do.

This law protects Americans from abuses by insurance companies, such as denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or gender. It allows parents to keep children covered under their insurance plan until age 26. It requires that coverage include preventive care at no out-of-pocket cost. It limits the unilateral power of insurance companies to arbitrarily impose annual or lifetime coverage limits. Those arbitrary limits have forced families to choose between much-needed care and bankruptcy.

Families will be protected from unexplained premium increases, and they will get clear, easy-to-read summaries of their options. Small businesses will receive tax credits to help them provide affordable insurance coverage to their workers. And insurance companies will be prevented from rescinding coverage when patients need it most - when they get sick.

Response: Wow, Senator. Let’s take a look at those two paragraphs that you wrote about what you call “protecting Americans.” It’s almost breath-taking how the U.S. Congress wants to “help”.

“This law protects Americans from abuses …, such as … It allows … It requires … at no out-of-pocket cost. It limits … the … power of insurance companies to … impose … limits. Those arbitrary limits have forced families to choose between much-needed care and bankruptcy.”*

“Families will be protected … Small businesses will receive tax credits … And insurance companies will be prevented from …”

Senator, I trust that you acknowledge what happens when the federal government keeps all of the current three types of health care bureaucracies … and then proceeds to add an extensive law that protects and allows and limits and prevents and provides (tax credits and subsidies). In other words, the federal government is expanding our already inefficient bureaucracy. Here is a brief summary of the report provided by our Medicare for All special investigation team: higher costs, higher taxes and more intrusions.

Indeed, sir, the USA is headed in the wrong direction, and citizens of other countries … and Americans living and working in those other free-market countries … are amazed that the U.S. Congress could now have failed for the eighth time in seven decades to implement a health-care-for-all system, of which ours will be the best . Please support Improved Medicare for All.

This law is sensible, moderate reform that in the coming years will make health insurance more affordable and secure for those who have it today, and make affordable coverage available for millions of Americans who are now without it. It will reduce the deficit, protect the Medicare benefits that seniors depend on now and in the future, and help families afford the insurance coverage they need. It was good for Michigan and the nation that this important law’s opponents failed in their efforts to repeal it.

 

Moderate, you write! First, do you know what the impact of the law will be? That is, have you read it? As implied above, our special investigation team spent weeks pouring over the sections of the Affordable Care Act. Yes, Americans have experienced and will experience benefits, but at the cost of three types of burdens that are worthwhile to repeat: higher health care costs, higher taxes and government intrusions.

Regarding health care policy, I work with people from all over this great country of ours, Senator. Contact the low-wage-earning citizens who live in Massachusetts … or those simply right on the borderline of the levels of subsidies for cost-sharing. [Are you familiar with Section 1402 of the Affordable Care Act? That’s where the IRS shares OUR data with others within the government. That’s where the government sends money directly to the health insurance companies to cover out-of-pockets costs for millions of Americans.] I hope you know that this new law is a national version of the Massachusetts law. This is an extreme law with respect to government intrusions, like I have heard so clearly from Massachusetts citizens. Do you know what happened in the days before the special election to replace Senator Ted Kennedy? Lifelong Democrats were working as hard as they could to elect their new Senator: Republican Scott Brown. That is how much they hate the Massachusetts version of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. I don’t know if you were paying close attention or not on that special election, but I know first-hand that those Democrats were a very helpful force in getting Scott Brown elected.

Carl Levin is the senior U.S. senator from Michigan.

 

More of my Response

You wrote “This law is sensible, moderate reform …”. I disagree. In fact, this law is illogical and is an extreme enlargement of the three bloated bureaucracies that are in place. What we need is FUNDAMENTAL REFORM to establish a health care for all system.

Beyond the specific responses that I provided to you so far, I repeat for you that Improved Medicare for All will cut health care costs by over $400 billion per year. Do you remember the flurry of lobbyists that must have been in your office in the summer of 2009 or did your staff handle most of the load? The health insurance companies and friends were spending a reported average of $1.4 million every day to influence you. And you bought it, Senator. Kiss your job goodbye if you do not start being part of the solution. I expect you to not only support but promote the implementation of our health care for all system: national single-payer health care via improved Medicare for All.

The United States Congress has failed the American people eight times in the last seven decades. As the American people become informed, I suggest you listen and respond to the upcoming uproar over this.

Additional Information

  • Fact Check: The specific Factcheck.org link about “A ‘Job-Killing’ Law?”.
  • The March 2010 Law: Impressive benefits? Yes. At what cost? Higher health care costs. Higher taxes. New government intrusions into the lives of millions of Americans.
  • Financial impact and impact on the number of uninsured as a result of the on-going implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, as reported by the Chief Auditor and staff of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Improved efficiency will save us over $400 billion per year instead of our spending $300 billion over ten years.
  • More Jobs and Better Health via Improved Medicare for All.

References:
Three Types of Bureaucracy
Affordable Care Act of 2010
Failures of the U.S. Congress
Best health-care-for-all system and why

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