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Virginia's GOP members of Congress kill me. Take their double standards on health care.

Rep. Randy Forbes of Chesapeake tells the Daily Press of Newport News that he doesn't want a government-run health care system. "We're going to end up destroying a very good health-care system," Forbes said. Rep. Rob Wittman of Montross in Westmoreland County tells the same paper that he's hearing an "overwhelming hesitancy" to a government-run system.

Rep. Eric Cantor of Richmond agrees. He recently wrote in a Richmond Times-Dispatch that, "the root of the problem is [the Democrats'] House bill's imposition of the so-called "government option."

Other than a few platitudes on his Website, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke is pretty much silent on health care. Rep. Frank Wolf of Vienna, doesn't say a whole lot about health care on his website either, but at least he voted for SCHIP and he's working with Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Fairfax County and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland to let you pay for your health insurance premiums with pre-tax income, effectively lowering your taxes. Of all the Republicans in Virginia, Wolf is once again, the most reasonable.

Yet these Congressmen -- federal employees all -- enjoy health insurance from a government-run plan. And when they reach retirement age, you know they'll accept Medicare, another government-run plan.

So my question is, if you hate the government so much and government-run programs are so terrible, should you really ever participate in them personally? Put differently, if these government-run health care programs are good enough for you, shouldn't they also be good enough for your bosses -- the people who elect you?

Fortunately, earlier today, House Democrats formally announced the introduction of legislation to fix our broken health care system. While the bill may not be perfect, I am concerned that we can not afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Many observers believe that the costs of doing nothing are far greater than maintaining the status quo. One study indicates that doing nothing means that the health care costs for an average family of four will rise $1,800 a year in perpetuity, leaving more and more of decisions about your health care up to insurance companies, not you and your doctor.

The Democratic bill offers families more choices, including the option to keep their own doctor. It also prevents denials or rate increases for preexisting conditions.

In Virginia, we need reform of our health care system. Consider these statistics:

  • Roughly 4.8 million people in Virginia get health insurance on the job, where family premiums average $13,302, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage job.

  • Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 99 percent in Virginia.

  • Household budgets are strained by high costs: 21 percent of middle-income Virginia families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care.

  • High costs block access to care: 11 percent of people in Virginia report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.

  • Virginia businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1,000 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.

  • 14 percent of people in Virginia are uninsured, and 70 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.

  • The percent of Virginians with employer coverage is declining: from 68 to 62 percent between 2000 and 2007.

  • While small businesses make up 71 percent of Virginia businesses, only 48 percent of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006.

  • Choice of health insurance is limited in Virginia. WellPoint Inc. (BCBS) alone constitutes 50 percent of the health insurance market share in Virginia, with the top two insurance providers accounting for 61 percent.

  • Choice is even more limited for people with pre-existing conditions. In Virginia, premiums can vary based on demographic factors and health status, and coverage can exclude pre-existing conditions or even be denied completely.

As I have written earlier, if we can't pass health care reform now, when can we pass it? I think the time is now.

Cross posted on Fake Virginia.

Originally posted to Fake Virginia on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 06:47 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Obama won Randy Forbes' district (3+ / 0-)

    He can be defeated next year.

    Pragmatic progressivism is the future.

    by Pragmaticus on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 06:57:40 PM PDT

    •  dude (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your last 10 posts are nothing but this link in every diary that pops up. It's spamming, and sure to start earning you some donuts soon.
      Just a friendly word of advice.

      The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

      by FireCrow on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 08:40:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  all Americans (4+ / 0-)

    should have the same health care insurance as members of Congress.  In fact, Congress should be covered by the same coverage as the poorest of our citizens to insure the system is properly run.

  •  We here in Virginia think our congressmen deserve (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    post rational

    the best health care available.  They should get all the psychiatric care known to man.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 07:33:05 PM PDT

  •  I'm Not Too Happy (0+ / 0-)

    with Mark Warner either. Seems he wants
    co-ops and/ or "triggers".  
    Meet the new Warner,
    Same as the old Warner.

    No one will set you on the wrong path quicker than a true believer...

    by post rational on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 07:35:28 PM PDT

  •  Congressmen don't have "government-run" HC (0+ / 0-)

    They have private insurance companies so your analogy is inapt.  To compare the proposed "public option" and Medicare to the Federal Employees Health Benefits program is comparing apples and oranges.

    •  I'd disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      post rational

      The government, through the Office of Personnel Management, negotiates the benefits, premiums, terms and conditions.

      That's government-run in my book.

      •  It's not government run in my book (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm for the public option, but need to correct the impression of many that the Congressmen and Federal employees already have it.  

        I'm in the FEHB, and I've got to deal with the jerks at Aetna and BCBS just like a person in the private sector.  Canter and the others are attacking the public option, which would be like Medicare in that the government is the insurance company.  That is not the model for the FEHB.  I know it's a convenient rhetorical device to say that Congressmen and Federal employees have something like the public option, but they/we do not.  

        If the Congress were to pass a law allowing the general public into the FEHB, there would be an uproar on DK saying that it is a give-away to the private insurance companies and not real reform b/c there would not be a public option.  

        •  FEHB (0+ / 0-)

          You're right, as a Federal employee, you still have to still with private insurers.

          My point was a larger one. These Congressional critics -- Cantor, et al -- are constantly criticizing the government, yet benefitting from it personally. Every single GOP Congressman from Virginia trumpets the pork they get for their district, yet they decry the rising deficits.

          With health care, they spent the entire Bush admin. whining about the problems in the system and doing nothing to fix it. Now they want to kill reform again.

          But back to FEHB. With that program, there ARE government employees who set the parameters of the program. Is it exactly what the public option would be? Of course not.

          But those opposed to the public option are saying so simply because Federal employees would have a hand in running the program.

          As to an uproar on DK, I'm not so sure that would be a bad thing. ;-)

  •  Thanks for the information (0+ / 0-)

    It will help when I am knocking on doors in Eric Cantor's district.

  •  Quality health care in Virginia (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, Fake Virginia

    As a former health care giver, I am shocked and saddened to see what has become of health care in America.  $ 1. 4 million is being spent per day in DC by the health care lobbyists so your elected representative is getting taken care of and has quality health care we pay for and can't afford ourselves for our families, I know what is deemed, defended and supported in Tennessee and Virginia as quality health care and clearly profit care comes ahead of patient care.  MRSA ( methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureas ) is infesting our communities because filthy, uncaring hospitals and emergency rooms are breeding them and spreading them into our schools, homes, restaurants.  How many more Americans' will be diseased or die while 74 % of Americans' are begging for health care reform ?  More people died in America last year from MRSA complications than AIDS.  When MRSA and a flu bug start mixing, it won't be pretty and we are being infected by the very health care system we depend on and trust to keep us safe and healthy.

    There will only be change when those unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

    by quidam56 on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 08:53:17 PM PDT

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