Health Care Reform – Message to Congress

This is an email (with revisions since) that I sent to our two CA Senators and our Representative:

I urge you to take an active role in the reform of our health care system.  The cost is excessive, our care is not the best, and we need to cover all people.

COVERAGE

I want it to allow people to keep the plans they have or to sign up for a public option.  I want the public option to build on the success of Medicare and Medicaid.

I want the insurance companies to be more effectively regulated, so that plans are portable, people cannot be excluded for pre-existing conditions, or their claims rejected for minor technicalities, or dropped because of health problems.

I want the plan to cover all citizens, with a limit on out-of-pocket contributions, perhaps based on income level.  Essential medical services should be available to undocumented aliens at costs that are lower than emergency room visits.

COSTS

There is no question that expanding medical coverage will be costly.  But perhaps only in the short run.

I am in favor of encouraging multi-specialty clinics with doctors on salary.  The Mayo and Cleveland Clinics operate this way, and are renowned for excellent care.  The Fee-for-Services approach is an irresistible temptation for many doctors to order procedures that are only marginally justifiable.

The plan should provide for limits on malpractice insurance awards and premiums in such a way as to limit excessive defensive medical practices.

I realize that reform will be costly in the short term, but as cost controls and more efficient methods are developed over the years, we should be able to bring costs in line with other countries.

QUALITY

Health care reform should include provisions to monitor and make public the quality of health care based on results.  This should apply to facilities and physicians.

Incentives for preventive medicine should be a part of the plan.  This will both reduce the cost of health care and improve the quality of people’s lives.

LEGISLATIVE RESPONSIBILITY

I urge you to resist the poisonous partisanship that seems to be destroying Congress’ ability to legislate effectively.  Barack Obama is doing his best to lead Congress towards constructive practices and legislation, and I hope you will support him in that.  It will be a tragedy if health reform is further delayed.   This is our main chance.

Insurance and pharmaceutical companies seem to be leading the resistance to effective health care reform.  I urge you to resist the pressures to delay reform.

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