Good Afternoon one and all(all 3 of you, lol) A month ago exactly the Health care bill passed the house of representatives by a relatively thin margin, 5 votes as I recall. I wrote about it, live blogged it (sorta) and at the time I noted that My representative, Mike McMahon, a democrat voted against it. This was how I spoke of it Nov. 9th:
And my representative, Rep. Mike McMahon (D) voted against. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I will wait until I hear why he voted against. If I find out he’s a blue dog, he will NOT get my vote come next election cycle. BLUE DOGS SUCK. I don’t want to find out that I actually voted for some half assed republican wannabe when I thought I was voting for a Democrat. THAT would piss me off. We’ll see. I’ll be contacting his office to find out what the hell is up with this vote, and will let you know what happens.
and so I sent him an e-mail the contents of which are as follows:
Greetings, Rep. McMahon.
I have a few simple questions. Why did you vote against the Affordable Healthcare for America Act? Was there a specific portion of the bill that you didn’t like, or was it just wrong for America in your eyes? What turned you against it? Was there anything they could have done in congress but didn’t to get your vote on this bill? Are you a “blue dog” democrat?
I write a blog and told my readers I would ask you these questions. I would have written earlier, but i’ve been busy. Looking for work in this economy, after all, is in and of itself a full time job.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Well, guess what? Last Friday, he responded. Here is his response:
Dear Mr. Walsh,
Thank you for contacting me about health care reform.
On July 14, 2009, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) introduced H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. This bill was separately amended by the House Committees on Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means. On October 29, 2009, Rep. Dingell introduced a revised combination of these three different versions of H.R. 3200 as a new bill: H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. H.R. 3962 passed the House on November 7, 2009 by a vote of 220-215. Similar health care reform legislation must now pass the Senate, the House and Senate bills must be reconciled, and then those changes must be approved by both chambers before a bill can be signed into law by the President.
As you may know, I recently voted against H.R. 3962. Although there are many important reforms included in H.R. 3962, I was unable to vote for this bill. This legislation contains many changes that I support. It allows individuals to keep coverage between jobs and allows young people to remain on their parents’ plans. It also bans insurance discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and closes the Medicare “donut hole” that forces too many seniors to pay out of pocket for prescription drugs. However, I believe that the net negatives of this bill outweigh the positive effects for Staten Island and Brooklyn residents.
One thing is crystal clear: the need for health reform is urgent and indisputable. It is estimated that our country will be spending 1 out of every 5 dollars on health care by 2015. Americans are losing their health insurance at a rate of 14,000 people every day. Clearly the status quo is not a sustainable path. But our nation’s health care system impacts every single one of us, and accounts for almost one-sixth of our economy – so we need to get this right.
H.R. 3962 does not do enough to bring down costs for people who currently have health insurance. The rise of health care costs depresses wages and forces businesses to forego important investments. I also fear that the array of government programs created in H.R. 3962 may pave the way to increased taxes in the future.
The bill also would cut $170 billion from the Medicare Advantage program which serves approximately 40% of our district’s seniors, and could lead to significant monthly premium increases for Medicare beneficiaries. The hospitals in Staten Island are set to lose nearly $25 million in uncompensated care reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. If such drastic cuts are made, the hospitals will struggle to survive, let alone be able to provide care to thousands of newly insured patients.
Please keep in mind that my vote on H.R. 3962 was not a vote against health care reform; it was a vote on one specific bill. I remain optimistic that with the House and Senate working together with the Obama Administration, we can achieve a bill that meets the goals of affordability, improved access and coverage, in a way that is also fiscally sustainable in the long-term.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding this important issue. Please feel free to get in touch with my office in the future if I can be of any assistance to you on this or any other matter of concern. I hope you will find my website – http://www.mcmahon.house.gov – a useful resource for keeping up with events in Washington and the 13th District of New York.
Michael E. McMahon
Representative for the 13th District of New York
Mighty nice of him, seriously. I wrote a senator once, not gonna name names, I didn’t even get a form letter back from the guy. I respect the fact that he even took the time to have his office send out what looks like a letter put together by a) himself (I’m being an optimist) or b) a staffer and given a signature after the fact. But I also want to talk just for a sec about some stuff he addresses here.
I don’t know enough about the bill to know about the medicare reimbursements in detail, and the particular part about Medicare Advantage I am somewhat uncertain of. What I can do is link to the legislation itself, go through a bit of it, and write about a few things, let’s start with one word.
COULD. It COULD lead to significant monthly premium increases. From what I can grasp about this legislation there is going to be every effort to make sure that the same quality care that Medicare Advantage now provides will continue, and will (section 1161 (o) in fact increase payments into the blended benchmark for qualifying plans by 1.5% in 2011, 3% in 2012, and 5% every year thereafter.
Section 1181 (a)(7)(A) will increase initial coverage limits by $500. There are decreases in out of pocket thresholds, there is an extension to the medicare senior housing plan, there is a Medicare part D(section 1182(g)(3)) discount of 50% on “qualifying drugs”
Does that speak to the $170,000,000,000 cut in Medicare advantage? I believe it, to some extent does.
Now, am I the be all end all knower of all things medicare? No, not by a long shot, and I’m sure that bears out in some of what I’ve written, but I went through the bill, as thoroughly as I am able, and I saw nothing about “uncompensated care reimbursements” anywhere in the actual language of the bill.
Representative McMahon has his stated reasons for opposing the bill. It is in fact good to see that he doesn’t dislike the concept of health care reform, and that he hopes that it can come out and benefit Staten Islanders and everyone else alike. He says that it doesn’t do enough to address health care costs. Fair enough, but that can be dealt with later, can it not? The bill can be amended after passage, this bill after all itself amends the Social security act, and since no legislation is perfect, it can be worked out at a later date, either in conference or in other legislation further on down the road. The one bit that gets me is this word that he tossed in the last sentence of the 4th paragraph of his letter.
He FEARS tax increases may come about due to the array of government programs created by this legislation…
He fears taxes, fights quality legislation meant to help the average person claiming it hurts them when it looks for all the world like it doesn’t, he likes many parts of the legislation but can’t vote for it… It saves billions, but not enough… Damn it! Ya know, as much as he has his head in the right place, I think he might be a blue dog!