Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Health care - An open letter to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7)

Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland's 7th congressional district organized a town-hall style conference call this evening, and ours was one of the phone numbers called.  Below is my response.

To the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings

I'm listening to your town-hall phone call this evening, thank you for organizing this discussion on the healthcare bill. As the President said in his recent press conference - our status quo is a horrible option. But it strikes me that we are facing two main issues here: 1. efficiency, and 2. access.

It is generally agreed upon that in order to afford universal coverage, we will have to lower the cost of coverage. Why is the President and a large portion of the Democratic congressional delegation rushing to increase coverage before proving that we can first improve efficiency?

Your last caller was concerned that increased legislation would only be a source of additional cost rather than savings. Would it not be more prudent - and easier - to first pass a bill that addresses the efficiency question, and then based on the success of that first bill, gradually increases coverage? Would decreasing costs first not also allow people and companies who currently can't afford coverage to finally do so?

You said America is the country that put a man on the moon, but we didn't do it on the first try - we proved the efficiency of the program (and had missteps along the way) before we shot for the moon. I have two kids, and our current national debt is now $11 trillion. With a current budget deficit adding to this debt at a record pace, I find it irresponsible to bet on the efficiency of an unproven program at this time.

Please work with the Blue Dog coalition and the Republicans in Congress and the Senate to emphasize efficiency and cost reduction first and foremost before adding to our bet.

Thank you,

Oskar Austegard

For more information on the need for health care reform, see the non-partisan organization The National Coalition on Health Care.

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