Congressman Bart Stupak represents a wide swath of northern Michigan so I decided to send him an email to see where he stands on health care reform, particularly what his stance on a robust public option is. I've been hearing different things from Stupak so I wanted him to clarify his position. Here's his response and as you can see he provides little to no clarification.
Dear Mr ********:
Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform. I appreciated hearing from you on this important issue.
The experiences of Northern Michigan families and employers parallel the national trend. Almost 50 million Americans, including 10 million children, are living without health care. Approximately 82 percent of these uninsured individuals have a full or part-time job. Unfortunately, it is becoming harder for employers to offer affordable insurance to their employees. Coverage is becoming more expensive and less comprehensive, with high deductibles, co-pays and coverage limits.
From 2000 to 2007, employer sponsored annual health insurance premiums rose from $6,817 to $12,151, an increase of $5,334 or 78.2 percent. Over the same period, the median earnings of Michigan's workers increased from $25,910 to $27,096, an increase of $1,186 or 4.6 percent. Clearly these skyrocketing health care costs are unsustainable for both families and employers.
Health care is a basic right that should be afforded to all Americans, it is not a privilege. It is my belief that in reforming health care in our country, Congress needs to build on the existing framework by making it easier for employers to provide health insurance and by providing access to government programs for individuals not covered by their employer.
President Obama has committed to making health care reform a priority by dedicating $634 billion in his five year budget to finance health reforms aimed at reducing insurance premiums and the number of uninsured Americans. While $634 billion will not be enough to fully fund a comprehensive reform, it is a concrete first step in the direction of health reform.
H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14, 2009. It is estimated the legislation would ensure health care coverage for 97 percent of Americans by 2016. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated the bill will cost $1 trillion over 10 years, although the bill includes provisions that fully pay for health care reform without increasing the federal budget deficit.
Despite some of the improvements provided in H.R. 3200, I remain concerned with the legislation. During my first campaign for Congress in 1992, I made a promise to my constituents that I would support health care reform and not accept the health insurance that is offered to members of Congress until all Americans had access to quality, affordable health care. I have kept that promise.
I hear every day the heartbreaking stories of my constituents - the insured, the uninsured and the under insured. I hear from those who the current health care system has left helpless, bankrupt and disillusioned.
I want to help all of my constituents by providing quality, affordable health care, but the proposal before us perpetuates a broken system. CBO has said that by 2016 - seven years from now - 97 to 98 percent of Americans will have health care coverage. CBO's independent, non-partisan analysis said the legislation does not address the inequities in the current system. Perhaps most alarming is that CBO said H.R. 3200, in its current form, will cost us hundred of thousands of jobs and weaken our economy. I am really concerned about the costs to small businesses.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which I serve, began considering amendments to H.R. 3200 on Friday, July 17, 2009. This process will continue through Wednesday, July 22, 2009. I will listen carefully to the debate and offer and support amendments that provide for accessible, affordable and efficient health insurance coverage. I hope that when this process is complete H.R. 3200 is a bill that better accomplishes the goal of effectively reforming our health care system.
Again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to contact me again if my staff or I can be of any assistance.
Member of Congress
So there you have it. He doesn't directly address a public option but he does regurgitate the tired ol' "concerned about the costs" talking point. I give credit to Stupak for responding. I also give him credit for not accepting the health insurance offered to members of Congress, but to me that isn't a sign of solidarity, it's more an empty gesture. Stupak has more than enough money to provide his family with good, quality health care coverage. He doesn't have to worry about bankruptcy if anything happens to someone in his family. His access isn't limited to emergency room treatment. He's connected. After all he camps out at C Street, which from what I understand is like a Studio 54 for God-fearing congress people who like to spend their evenings playing beer pong or some other frat-related shit.
I grow tired of our elected officials treating us like fools. If the Blue Dogs succeed in destroying health care reform do they honestly think excuses like this are going to pacify us? Like I'm going to say, "Oh well looks like another 9 years of no health insurance but Bart Stupak said that he was concerned about costs so I guess he knows best."
Fuck that noise! This is the issue. This is what many of us fought for. If they screw this up then they're in for a rude awakening. A few years back I didn't have the capability or the know-how to track what you assholes were doing. But with communities like Daily Kos it's a whole lot easier to track your votes and capitulations. I don't have much faith in the Democrats right now largely because they've given us no reason to believe they're going to fight for us. We are only important come election time. They see us as the obstacle, the enemy right now. We're shining the light on their corrupt ways and they want to shut us up, give us some watered-down health care reform and call it a success. But I'll be damned if I don't go down swinging.
Let them have their vacations while Americans continue to suffer. Let them come back home and "listen" to their constituents. And let this August be the hottest damn month they've ever experienced.