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Thank you for your response.  I have more comments below.

"Chuck" wrote:
I appreciate hearing your support for a government-run health insurance plan in the United States.  While I certainly agree we need to improve coverage for the 47 million uninsured Americans, and millions more that are underinsured, I do not view the creation of a government-run health insurance plan as the solution.  In fact, independent analysis has shown that a government plan would increase costs and drive close to 120 million Americans out of private insurance.  Instead, health reform should create stronger rules and regulations for private insurers.

MY RESPONSE: Whose costs?  If you consider that today Americans are paying for our "health care system" by going bankrupt or dying, then your statement is ludicrous.  Yes, it will cost this country money to pay for healthcare, but you must factor into the equation what it is really costing us (Americans) NOW.

If you are talking about the per-individual cost of healthcare increasing because of a government-run plan, then it must be because the congress refuses to revamp the system appropriately.  It has nothing to do with public vs. private.  Your vague plan (below) for revamping Medicare sounds like a start, but notice, it is a solution you impose on the system BY MEANS OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT OPTION.  Sounds like you support Obama's view of the public option as a means to push the private industry in the right direction!

Please give me the source of this "independent analysis."

And who exactly benefits from stronger rules and regulations?  People with pre-existing conditions.  That's good.  Insurance companies with their captive customers.  OK, though it makes it clear we should be suspicious of anyone, such as yourself, receiving donations from the healthcare industry.  And?  How are your "rules and regulations" going to insure the millions of people who currently cannot afford health insurance because they don't have a job or enough salary.  Accomplishing that goal is still going to cost!  Is that cost factored in your rules and regulations?

The U.S. health care system is a private sector -- rather than a government-run -- system, which allows each citizen to make his or her own decisions about health care. I have found that most people would rather have control over their own health care rather than have the government make the decisions for them.

MY RESPONSE:  What?  My private insurer makes decisions about my healthcare NOT me.  When I got sick as a graduate student and wanted to consult an out-of-network expert, I had to pay out of pocket with supplement from generous teachers who put together a fund so I could get the best advice.  So, I'm smart enough to realize that your statement is unsubstantiated scare talk.  Too bad most of your constituents do not question you further on this point.  I am.  Why is a healthcare system run by the government any worse, in terms of patient choice, than a system run by profit-driven private insurers?

And, by the way, a huge chunk of the U.S. healthcare system is public.  Even people on that public healthcare system seem to forget it.  It seems that you are contributing to this misperception by failing to mention Medicare and Medicaid.

Despite the advantages of our current system, however, there are also many problems. We have too many people who can't find affordable insurance because costs are growing too quickly and insurers deny coverage because of pre-existing illnesses. The quality of medical care provided varies from world-class to inefficient and wasteful because the system pays based on the quantity of care provided instead of rewarding quality. I hope we can all agree that any meaningful health reform bill must get costs under control, make coverage more affordable and accessible, and not add to the deficit.

MY RESPONSE.  I agree on everything except and "not add to the deficit."  I want to emphasize once again.  The "deficit" is already there.  It is felt in the pockets of millions of families across this country.  Why is the deficit better left in their pockets rather than a shared debt of civilized society?  Of course, we have to balance the budget, and society must pay this cost with taxes, so I guess I agree again, but I fear where you go from here, our "common ground."

Health reform must also address the challenges facing small businesses. Often small businesses face such high prices that they are unable to provide coverage for their employees. Fixing this has to be a top priority. Congress should build upon the broad agreement for prohibiting insurers from denying coverage and pricing employers and individuals out of the system. Health insurance exchanges - or a virtual shopping mall of health plan choices - also has strong bipartisan support and would provide assistance to people trying to find the most affordable health plan that meets their medical needs.

MY RESPONSE: I think that NO company should be responsible for employee healthcare.  Wouldn't that alleviate a lot of pain and injustice so that companies could focus on making products and money rather than navigating the broken healthcare system?  There are major problems with employer-based healthcare.  Forcing businesses to pay for employee healthcare differentially affects companies with a older and smaller workforces.  Agism is already a problem in the private sector, even without adding the negative of older employee's health costs.  In a capitalistic society where competition creates greatness, healthcare costs are a type of competition that is counter-productive.  And finally, healthcare tied to jobs means the 10-20% of people without jobs are screwed, exactly when they need protection (loss of a job can cause health problems).

So, I suggest individuals should be responsible for their own healthcare, with government help where necessary.  Won't that help small businesses and our current need for jobs?

A virtual shopping mall of health plan choices.  Great.  I'd like to see the government option in that mall.  If Americans truly don't want public healthcare, they are free to shop at only the private stores.  If you truly care about the Americans and their free choice, then I charge you to make this mall happen WITH a public option and everyone on a level playing field.

Finally, real health reform should also address the inefficiency in our current Medicare payment systems. Under current law, Medicare providers are rewarded for providing high-cost, low-quality care. We need to reconfigure how we pay for health care so that the best providers are rewarded for innovation and the best outcomes. As these changes in how Medicare pays for health care are voluntarily adopted by private health plans, it will help make sure we are getting the most bang for our health care buck. And to end the high-cost of defensive medicine, health reform should include effective medical malpractice reform.

MY RESPONSE.  I agree with you.  Be very careful with malpractice reform please; we still need to protect the people, especially when they are sick.

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