UnionMaine

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Will Our Representatives Help a Mainer Who is Not Rich or a Lobbyist? Will They Even Answer Questions?

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Unionmaine is taking on both the Democrats and the Republicans that represent Maine on the health care debate. There are a lot of rumors going around, the “Obama will kill your grandmother” and “it’s unfair to health insurance companies” buzz so I have decided to get some facts.

Continue reading at the bottom, I will update this post as answers or lack of answers show up. The first answer is from Congressman Michaud.

The first thing I would like to give our representatives a chance to tell the whole truth about is their so called “Golden Health Care”. Do they pay all of it? Do they pay some of it? Does Congress get a lot more than the regular citizen?

I don’t know so I called their offices to ask.

We will get a chance to see how well our representatives respond to a member of the public. On Wednesday, August 19, I called Senator Snowe, Senator Collins, and representatives Michaud, and Pingree. I made two statements and asked a question. I said I was strongly in favor of a public option for any health care plan and second, that I was also a blogger. I further said that the reason for my call was to judge the responsiveness of our representatives to a request for information!

The responsiveness to a citizen is my real motive, I used the health care question because it is in the news, I am interested, and our representatives have had months to prepare for any kind of question from the public.

Will they give an answer? Remember, everything I asked for is public information, I only asked for help as a citizen for information that could help to decide which way I should continue to feel about a public option.

I asked each office for a copy of the explanation of benefits for the health care plan the Senator or representative had had elected to participate in and a financial statement for how much the tax payer paid and how much the representative paid.

Senator Snowe’s office was simply rude. I was told that it is public information, go look it up. I asked for a link to the information and again I was refused. I asked for an email, and got a big NO. Senator Snowe’s office would not even agree to send me an email with a refusal. I was told they don’t do email.

So much for Senator Snowe.

Senator Collins Office took my request and said they would “look into it”. While it sounded like a brush off we will see.

Representative Michaud’s office, while polite gave much the same answer.

Representative Pingree’s office asked questions about what I was doing, what I wanted and the woman who took the call was both polite and professional without giving any promises, except that whatever decision was reached, they would let me know.

I was not seeking detailed financial records from our representatives. I would think they would have been prepared for questions like these already. This investigation into ”responsiveness and effectiveness” in our federal representatives will let us know how they feel not so much on health care, but about us. If they send the information, good and if they will or they won’t Mainer find public information that will show what level of respect they have or do not have for the voters.

I asked for the following:

  • A listing of the total cost for each representative and Senator for the health care plan they have enrolled in.
  • A listing of the tax payer contribution to the plans.
  • Their personal costs for their health care plans.
  • A copy of their explanation of benefits from their plan to include deductibles, limitations, drug benefits etc.

  • How long do they have to work for the Federal Government before they are vested in their health care plans and do they continue to receive those plans upon retirement?
  • Do they pay for their plans in retirement?

Either the information or the refusal to help will become public–just as the debate in the House and Senate picks up. Senators and representatives might think a little differently about how and who they represent. If the public sees Congress receiving a golden plan far better than the one they are willing to pass for us, or if we see a plan just like any Wal-Mart employee could buy it will help us to understand how our representatives view us and our needs for care.

If it is a great plan we will have to ask Congress to stop obstructing reform may change their commitment from obstruction to progress pretty quickly

August 21 Congressman Michaud

This is my reply, read on for the Congress critter’s answer.


Congressman Michaud,

Thank you. My request was for a copy of your explanation of benefits booklet for your federal insurance and a financial breakdown of how much you pay, how much the tax payer pays and whether your insurance will continue when you retire.

Please see my article at http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com/2009/08/will-our-representatives-help-mainer.html where I have published my request to the whole Maine delegation. This form letter addresses very little of my request.

Please let me know if you intend to provide the information. Senator Snowe has already refused although her office agreed it was public information.

Thank you,

Thomas Maher



From: me02@housemail.house.gov [mailto:me02@housemail.house.gov]
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 5:28 PM
To: NarsBars@TDS.net
Subject: A Message from Congressman Michaud


August 21, 2009

Mr. Thomas Maher


Dear Thomas:

Thank you for contacting me regarding healthcare reform in the United States. One of the most important parts of my job is to hear the many perspectives from the people I represent. That’s why I come back to Maine almost every single weekend – so I can stay in touch with what’s on the minds of the people of Maine’s Second Congressional District.

It is clear that our health care system is broken. Premiums have doubled in nine years and have grown three times faster than wages, which is squeezing everyone’s ability to make ends meet. Average American families already pay an extra $1,100 per year in premiums to support a broken system with 46 million Americans uninsured. Soaring costs harm the competitiveness of American businesses in the global economy and eat up a larger chunk of our gross domestic product every year. We have the most expensive health care system in the world with our country spending almost 50% more per person on health care than the next most costly nation. But we’re no healthier for it. As such, if we do nothing, in a decade, we’ll be spending $1 of every $5 on health care. In 30 years, it will be $1 of every $3.

Health care reform is too big of an issue to rush, and it’s important that Mainers know what it consists of before Congress votes on it. That’s why I recently sent a letter with my colleagues that asked congressional leaders to promote an open and bipartisan process that allows Members of Congress and the American people sufficient time to review the bill and add their input. Our letter also requested that Congress live up to the President’s goals of passing comprehensive reform that is deficit-neutral and that lowers costs for our families and businesses, increases the quality of care provided, and expands access for every American. In addition, we urged congressional leaders to make sure that small businesses and rural areas are treated fairly in any reform efforts. My signing of this letter was in no way an attempt to disrupt the process or water down a public insurance option, but rather a request for thoughtful consideration of the most important public policy issue of our time – with probably only one chance for us to get it right.

H.R.3200, America’s Affordable Health Choice Act, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14, 2009. By preserving choice of doctors, hospitals, and health plans, this legislation would uphold President Obama’s promise that anyone who is satisfied with their current health insurance plan should be allowed to keep it. Additionally, H.R.3200 would make investments to promote prevention and public health programs, reduce waste and fraud, and expand the health care workforce. Medicaid coverage would be expanded to all individuals with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Finally, H.R.3200 would create a self-sustaining public health insurance option, providing an affordable option to the millions of Americans without coverage.

I support a public insurance option, but I also believe that it is important that it be affordable and properly structured to address the needs of rural states like Maine. One such very serious concern with the current draft of the bill is that using Medicare-like rates for a public option would have a grave effect on Maine. Currently, the formula used to reimburse physicians and hospitals through Medicare puts rural states at a disadvantage by undercutting payments to our health care providers and contributing to higher health care premiums in Maine. Making matters worse, there is a severe shortage of health care providers in our state, and this number will continue to decrease unless we can develop a reimbursement system that will not drive our providers out of business and, ultimately, out of Maine altogether.

I strongly believe that we need to pass a fiscally responsible reform plan that fixes what is wrong with our healthcare system while preserving what works. Individuals that are satisfied with a private health insurance plan should be allowed to keep it. Furthermore, I do not support proposals to tax current health care benefits to finance reform or any measure that will place an excessive burden on small business owners. President Obama and the U.S. Congress must work together in a bipartisan fashion to deliver a plan that considers the many positive aspects of the American health care system and includes the best elements of the plans put forward so far.

Over the next few weeks, three House committees will work to merge their versions of health care reform into one package. The Senate is also working on a bipartisan way forward. Recent agreements reached in the House are likely to improve the legislation, making reform work better for Mainers and our small businesses. Current information, as well as the full text of the legislation, is available by going to http://www.michaud.house.gov and clicking on “Health Care Reform.” I remain hopeful that this process will produce strong legislation that will lower costs, expand coverage and improve quality for all Americans.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. In addition, I also provide occasional email updates on a range of issues affecting people in Maine. If you would like to receive this information, please visit my website at http://www.michaud.house.gov/enewsletter and sign up for my email newsletter. I appreciate the opportunity to represent you.

With warmest regards,

Michael H. Michaud

Member of Congress

Stay tuned, I really want to see what healthcare Congress carries and why you and I should not have access to the same plan.


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August 21st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments