Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dear Gabby

This post goes out to M & M, to A & her daughter and to my friend M and her sweet family. From one individual with underlying health issues that mean health care coverage dominates her life, to you, who definitely know the feeling. 

Thanks to Ilana for providing the ammunition to better understand the issue. Please note this post is not just about Arizona. If you're a voter in the US please read, at least the first bit.

One of the top galvanizing subjects of the 2008 presidential campaign was health care. However, it was not enough for us to vote at the presidential election with this in mind, now we have to make sure that our Congresspersons and Senators respect our desires. 

This weekend my dad went to the Single Payer Rally at the Tucson Convention Center which Congressman Raul Grijalva held. Dad was pretty impressed with Grijalva and also with State Legislator Phil Lopes and their thoughts on health care. My father's concern, like mine, is where does our Congresswoman Giffords stand on this matter? Specifically, where does she stand on HR 676? Can we assume she represents our strong convictions about the importance of health care for all? I checked in to Blog for Arizona, where they had an interesting post urging us to remind her what we, her constituents, want by emailing her. If you live outside Southern Arizona, do you know where your Congressperson stands? You can check it out here on Open Congress. Kudos to Ed Pastor for also co-sponsoring this bill. If you don't know who you congressperson is, check it out here

After our conversation my dad wrote an exquisitely eloquent letter to Congresswoman Giffords. I shot off a quick email and then read his letter. Realized the errors I'd made  I rewrote my letter nicking the general gist of the argument and a few phrases, supplementing it with my own experiences. It isn't my father's letter, but I've included my rambling letter below so you can take a gander. 

The general gist of today's post is won't you please, please, please send an email or give a call to your Congressperson today? You don't have to have the verbal diarrhea that I exude here, but just include the following:

1. Urging them to publicly and actively support HR 676
2. Remind them that you, as a constituent, do hold some power, voting power.  You can say "I won't vote for you if you won't represent me on something so important to me." 
3. If you have a personal anecdote that is appropriate, include it.
4. Remind them again what you want them to do: Support HR 676 and tell them what you will do if they don't support it. 
5. Request that they explain why they are not representing you if they choose not to co-sponsor the bill. 

If you want more information about HR 676 and the Single Payer System check out Physicians for a National Health Program

ETA:  Really this is too long.  Make yours shorter.  Do it now. Go on...

Dear Congresswoman Giffords,
I write to urge you to support and sign on as a cosponsor of HR676 and establish a single payer national health insurance system. I am registered as a democrat in your district. My vote for you in the future will depend on how you vote on the health issue.  Single payer is the way to attain freedom from the extensive medical bankruptcy that cripples our wonderful country.

Do not be swayed by the misinformation about single payer systems you will be bombarded with in the next few weeks. I grew up in the UK. A large portion of our family still lives there. Anecdotally, the comparison between the medical costs my mother and stepfather in the UK face and those my in-laws face are dramatic. My in-laws, who live in Nebraska, pay in one month for medications more than what very similar and sometimes even the same medication my mother and stepfather pay for an entire year. My parents in the UK receive personal, attentive care certainly comparable to what those with good insurance receive here. Putting aside anecdotes, data from WHO that reflects this personal cost difference; the substantial difference in governmental spending from the US to the UK and demands that you, as a fiscal conservative, consider and support a single payer system.

Contrary to rumors, those in the UK are free to choose their own doctors. The health authorities are accountable to the people. My mother sits on a committee (voluntary) that oversees and addresses issues within their local health authority. The bureaucracy associated with billing and claims, the limitations and regulation imposed on doctors by the insurance agencies are just not a concern in a single payer system. We in the US could have a simpler, more elegant and effective system than the broken system we currently have which does not effectively cover most Americans.

As I type this, my spouse is ordering our medications online. Currently we have insurance, ‘good’ insurance, yet we pay more than $300/month for four medications. Some of the preferred medications are no longer covered by our medical insurance. In the short-term, we can afford it, but our ability to invest and save for the future and contribute to the economy is severely hampered. Further, the fear of losing health insurance is a constant for me. One that dictates where I work and the salary I accept. How are we capitalizing on our people potential if the fear of loss of health insurance compromises their potential?

We believe that government is for the people and OF the people. Not of the insurance companies. I hope you hold the same belief, please reflect that with your public and active support for HR 676. If you do not at least support for a bill with a truly effective public option I will not vote for you again. I would appreciate a response explaining your decision if you chose not to support HR 676. 
Thanks for your attention.

A Little Gnocchi (okay, maybe I didn't sign off like that, but you get the idea)

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King Jr. 1966

Okay, now go back to the top of this post and email Gabby, or your congressperson today. Let your Senators know how you feel too. IF your Congressperson already co-sponsored HR676, thank them. 


  1. The British are probably best known for their 'dead mouse thinking', rather than shouting aloud how well they are doing. We are ashamed of our history (the Empire and all that) and unskilled about being hopeful for the future. So it was good to read a blog which celebrates our NHS. Those who are unwell should be supported by those who have good health. At different stages in our lives - youth and old age generally - we are more likely to need health care. Poor health care costs the nation. Pensioners get free prescriptions and those with diabetes like Norman get real quality care for drugs, eyes, feet etc. He has paid national health insurance contributions since the NHS was established in 1948. Without this support, he would be suffering and costing the nation much more in emergency care. Health care should be free at the point of provision. And having listened to conversations outside an intensive care unit in the US, I am horrified at decisions that commercial concerns force on patients and their families.

    The NHS also is being very pro-active in preventative health. The 'five a day' campaign has really sold the idea that you need to eat five pieces of fruit and/or veg. (not potatoes) a day. 4 - 7 year olds get a piece of fruit provided for free every school day. The Healthy Schools Programme, requires all our schools to educate our children (our future) about healthy living. Our cancer rates have fallen considerably according to the latest figures - in particular deaths from lung cancer.

    Of course the weather continues to be rather wet and cold even in mid summer, but the flu jabs are free!

  2. I am stealing from your letter to write to my congress person re: health care too. thank you!

  3. Great letter. It's hard to craft a good argument for universal healthcare when there are so many misconceptions and lies floating around. I'm going to bookmark this and use it as a template for a letter to my congressperson.

    I stumbled upon your blog today and did NOT expect to find a post on healthcare. However, this issue is too important to leave to political pundits and finance or political bloggers. It affects us all whether we write about food or travel. Thanks.