Lawmakers love their health care

To the editor,

Why do lawmakers on both sides of the aisle drag their feet about reforming our unnecessarily complex, inadequate, corporate-run health-care system? It’s over-priced, inefficient and unable to meet the health-care needs of millions of Americans. Yet nothing happens but bickering and fearmongering.

Now is the time to vote for candidates who support a national improved Medicare for All system. A program that allows you the freedom to choose your doctors and hospitals anywhere in the country and keep them for life. That’s a choice worth fighting for.

In polls, e-mails and town hall meetings, we’ve been insisting on the urgency with which legislators must fix health care. Yet they do nothing but criticize various proposals and try to abolish our existing program without a plan to replace it. For decades, private insurance companies have caused a failed free-market health-care system.

Health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and the American Medical Association have been pouring billions of dollars into legislators’ re-election campaigns. Their armies of lobbyists strongly urge these legislators to maintain the status quo.

Our lawmakers don’t feel the health-care pain like their constituents. Our legislators have and continue to enjoy top-quality, “socialist-style” care that they deny the public.

Lawmakers receive a huge taxpayer subsidy for their federal employee health insurance plans. They receive gold level Obamacare with taxpayers covering 72 percent of their premium costs. So, while many politicians in Congress openly oppose what some lambast as “socialized medicine,” they have no qualms about dipping into that tax-paid health coverage for themselves & their families.

There’s a medical center in the U.S. Capitol building called the Office of the Attending Physician. It provides a wealth of primary care and emergency services, specialists and a pharmacy for senators, representatives and Supreme Court justices. They just walk in and scads of doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and other professionals are ready to care for them. No appointment, no waiting, no insurance card needed and no bill. They receive excellent health care, maybe the best in the world. There are minimal annual fees (less than $600), but the care comes free even if they haven’t paid the fee.

If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed, members of Congress have a fallback plan. They would be able to return to their cushy federal program using a substantial taxpayer subsidy. If the ACA is repealed, 21 million Americans will lose their health insurance. Nearly 133 million Americans who have a pre-existing condition would lose their guarantee of coverage. And, 2 million Americans under the age of 26 would likely be forced off their parents’ insurance. Lawmakers become vested after five years of full congressional participation and, at retirement, receive their federal benefits for life.

Our members of Congress may be immune from financial pain, fear of denial and emotional stress inflicted on millions of Americans by the inefficient, bureaucratic, greed-driven corporate system. They may not feel the urgency to restructure a system that is working really well for them. Nor are they fully committed to covering those with pre-existing conditions. They ignore millions of Americans suffering from a broken system working only for those wealthy enough to afford it.

However, many of our legislators do work hard to break our current system.

Our physicians and other providers have top-notch skills, training and knowledge, but they operate within a flawed system. Success is not measured in care and successful outcomes but in profits. Maybe that’s why over 22,000 members of the Physicians for a National Health  Program and 150,000 members of the National Nurses United are advocating for a universal, single-payer, national health program.

Would we see progress in health-care reform if we removed the pampered care that our lawmakers have generously awarded themselves? This is legislative hypocrisy, and it is at the crux of our broken healthcare system.

Not all legislators refuse to give the average American family more care for less cost, there are currently 119 sponsors for M4A in the House; 15 in the Senate who are stepping up. Check to see if your representative or senator is committed to improving your health care.

– Jan Phillips, Durango