Trust me, I work for the Government

Does Congress think Public Option Is Too Good For the Public?

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medica...Image via Wikipedia

President Johnson Signing the Medicare Bill

This is an open letter to our Federal representatives from Maine.

You have all received a request for some public information about Health care.

So far your offices refuse to divulge what benefits I pay for as a tax payer. I am asking again in this letter and proving my reasons for asking.

I am not a lobbyist. I am not a CEO.
Will you answer me?

You, our Representatives have “Public Option” , choices provided by the Government, and run by private insurers. If this is so bad why won’t your offices provide the information requested on your plans? Why are some of you against a Public option for us, not just for you?

I called, and emailed your offices requesting help. I want to have some facts on health care to help me make up my mind.

My questions to your offices were few. I requested a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan each Congressional representative has chosen. What is covered? How much does it cost? Who pays and how much? Do I continue to pay for your plan when you retire?
Update 10:50 AM Thursday 9-3-09 I just got a call from Congressman Michaud’s office whose staff has promised to try to get the documents requested. Should take over a week” was the quote.

I already know you have no limits and unlike the insurance your constituents have you are never afraid your plan will be canceled simply because you became sick and needed the benefits.

I have heard health care reform called socialized medicine and when Medicare, Veterans care, and more were pointed out as Government run programs many members of Congress sat by quietly either not supporting health care reform or trying to ignore taking a stand.

You and all members of Congress have a public option plan. One of the best plans available with choices that allow you to choose the plan that fits your stage of life, your family and your budget.
Some Republicans and some Democrats are willing to avoid this truth and refuse to let the rest of
America share in the same health care you receive the moment you are sworn in.

We already have a public option for health care. Why can’t I join up? What is it we are asking for?
The public wants what you are reserving for yourself, as a Federal employee, with a public option
How many choices does the public have? If you work for a private employer you are normally limited to whatever they offer and what ever changes they make you can like it or lump it. Federal Employees, Congress included, have the largest selection of plans in the country.

Don’t like your plan? Kids leave home? Married? Want a high deductible plan or a plan that covers everything? Every year a Federal employee, Congress included, can change their health insurance.

You can not be denied coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition.
Is there choice when using a public option? Federal employees are able to choose from Blue Cross, Humana, Aetna, United HealthCare and several more.

A member of Congress can choose:
Health Plan Choices for Congress. Too many, too confusing, too affordable for the public?
Fee-for-service plans and health maintenance organizations (HMOs).
Fee-for-Service Plans
You may choose your own physician, hospital, and other health care providers.
Fee-for-service plans include:
  • The Government wide Service Benefit Plan, administered by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association on behalf of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, and is open to everyone eligible to enroll under the FEHB Program.
  • Plans sponsored by unions and employee organizations. Some of these plans are open to all Federal employees who hold full or associate memberships in the organizations that sponsor the plans; others are restricted to employees in certain occupational groups and/or agencies. Generally, the employee organization requires a membership fee or dues paid directly to the employee organization, in addition to the premium. This fee is set by the employee organization and is not negotiated with OPM.
Several Health Maintenance Organizations
Your physician is responsible for obtaining any pre-certification required for inpatient admissions or other procedures.
Three types of HMOs are:
  • Group Practice Plans.
  • Individual Practice Plans.
  • Mixed Model Plans.
Point of Service
High Deductible Health Plans
Your health plan establishes for you either a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).
Consumer-Driven Health Plans
A consumer-driven plan provides you with freedom in spending health care dollars the way you want. The typical plan has common features: member responsibility for certain up-front medical costs, an employer-funded account that you may use to pay these up front costs, and catastrophic coverage with a high deductible. You and your family receive full coverage of in-network preventive care.
Choices, choices, choices. Do you think this is just too confusing for the public?

As a State Employee I have health care. My health care costs nearly $6000.00 a year for family coverage.

Then I have deductibles, then I have co-pays, then I have the Republican party attacking the benefits I have as “golden” while Congress continues to reserve the public option for the select few.
What do you pay Representative? What are your benefits and Co-pays?

I asked your offices and been blown off, ignored, and told to go find it my self. Are you afraid of the truth? Who do you represent, Mainers or the health insurance industry?
Some Federal employees pay under $100.00 per month for single coverage. Congress has the same choices as other Federal employees, so what does it cost? How much is the tax payer paying for you?
I keep hearing “the government will control your doctor, and ration your care.”
Is this true now? When you seek medical care, do you deal with with a government agent or do you make health choices between you and your doctor?
Congress makes the laws, if you didn’t like your health care you would have changed it in the same way the Senate made the hard choice to refuse to raise the minimum wage for years while providing themselves a $30,000.00 a year raise. The Congressional plan you have is the same plan some call “government run”.
The public option is the same plan Congress has and wants to keep for itself. The members of Congress who are violently against a public option view Americans as stupid, lazy, and gullible.
If Congress blocks a public option, then the insurance industry will continue to grow richer. The millions of uninsured will not be able to afford effective insurance just because you pass a mandate.

If you mandate coverage with no public option insurance companies will simply offer a product guaranteed to cover them, not us and we will be paying tithes to companies and receiving no benefits in return.
Why should you be concerned?
The health care debate won’t affect
your coverage and your family will never go without needed care.
Congress will keep their government “Public Option” health care no matter what happens to us.

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September 3rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Health Policy, Healthcare reform, MSEA, MSEA ELECTIONS, Medicare, Thomas Maher | no comments

Health Care Reform. Part two. They don’t get it.

Chellie PingreeImage via Wikipedia

In part one of health care reform, I asked Senators Collins, Snowe, Michaud, and Pingree, for copies of their insurance policies and what the real costs and benefits are. How good are the plans, how much do they cost you and me?

Snowe’s office told me to go find it myself, they refused to talk.
Michaud sent and answer, but while polite it didn’t say anything.

Collins office, roughly translated said we’ll get back to you.

Pingree’s office sent a response tonight. I include the response, which answered none of my questions and my return to her office.

From: Willy Ritch [mailto:willy.ritch@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:45 AM
To: narsbars@unionmaine.org

Hi Tom,

I understand you had a question about health care benefits that Members of Congress are eligible for. They actually have a choice of a bunch of plans, and I think this LA Times article describes it pretty well:


Let me know if you have any more questions.

All the best,


Willy Ritch
Communications Director
Policy Advisor
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
207-774-5019 (Maine)
202-225-6116 (Washington)

Mr. Ritch,

Thank you but my question was more specific. I would like a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan Congresswoman Pingree elected and a break down of the costs for that plan allocated to the Congresswoman and the taxpayer. I realize this is public information but my intent is more than health care, it is to measure and demonstrate the help or lack of help each federal office holder in Maine is willing to provide to the public as opposed to a lobbyist.

I am afraid my contributions to Congresswoman Pingree do will not get me an invitation to chat on the phone.

I look forward to that information, as Senator Snowe’s office has told me to “go look it up” . I am publishing all of the answers I receive or the lack of them in a continuing series on my blog Http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com

Thank you,

Thomas Maher

The following was not in the letter, it is just my feelings.

We elected Democrats and if even they won’t tell us how much we are paying them, what next? This is my money! I want to know what you are being paid!

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August 25th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Healthcare reform, Olympia Snowe | no comments