I wrote a letter to my Senators and Representative on the health care issue a while back. Today, I got a response. Looks like a generic response... but the thing that really stuck out to me was the phrase "truly bipartisan approach." So I wrote Sen. Inouye again. Letter follows.
Dear Senator Inouye,
Mahalo for responding to my last message to you. However, I am disturbed when you discussed "a truly bipartisan approach." I do not think that a "bipartisan approach" is the solution at this point in time. The Republicans in Congress are determined to halt any progress on health care reform of any kind. For one example please remember the nonsense being peddled by your Republican colleagues on "death panels." That is not serious debate, nor should it merit serious consideration.
The people elected 59 Democrats to Congress and 257 Democrats to the House as a repudiation of Republican policies and their failure to implement the people's agenda from 2000-2006. From 2006 to 2008 the margins were slim, and with a Republican in the White House, meaningful change was elusive. Thus, in 2008 we saw the election of kama'aina President Obama and a real mandate for change. Incrementalism and bipartisanship are not "change," nor will they salvage the rusted hulk of America's health-care system. Only clear-eyed, decisive action by the Congress will ensure that all Americans have access to affordable healthcare.
We spend more, as a percentage of GDP, than any other nation for healthcare and we have by far the worst results. Because of this, our national industries are less competitive, our people are less free to change jobs for fear of losing their healthcare, and the health insurance industry posts profits in the billions of dollars while thousands of Americans who have paid for health insurance find themselves without coverage because of the evil doctrines of rescission and pre-existing conditions.
The plan being put forth by Sen. Baucus is an albatross. It places a mandate on individuals while providing scant guarantee that they will have access to quality healthcare. Such a plan will doom not only average Americans, but the future viability of the Democratic Party as the people learn that they have been sold down the river for "healthcare co-ops" and continued profitability for the death-by-spreadsheet industry.
Hawaii was the first state in the Union to mandate that employers provide health insurance to all full-time employees. Such a mandate has not harmed employment in our state, and it has resulted in Hawaii having one of the highest rates of insurance coverage, and one of the healthiest populations in the United States. Baucus' plan lacks even this common-sense provision which Hawaii achieved over 35 years ago.
Ultimately this Presidency, and this Congress, will be judged by how it grapples with the issue of healthcare for all Americans. I fervently hope you will show the Senate the validity of employer mandates as we have had in the Islands for many years now, as well as the "public option" which will help to contain costs and ensure that whatever reforms are passed do not simply flow from the taxpayer to the insurance companies' profit margins.