Friday, April 9, 2010

Betty Sutton sent me a letter this week. Yay!

Betty Sutton sent me a letter explaining her health insurance vote this week. I've reprinted it here, with my thoughts typed in blue, bold italics. Enjoy.

Thank you for contacting my office regarding health care reform. This important issue affects the lives of those in Ohio's 13th District and all others across our country. I appreciate you taking the time to convey your opinions about this crucial reform.

As you know, this great nation continues to find too many of its own without health insurance. Americans who receive health care from their employers are finding their benefits scaled back or outright cut. Companies are increasing employee premium contributions, deductibles and co-pays to adjust for the soaring increases.

Not that many of us in OH-13 are so dissatisfied with our health coverage that we earn at work that we feel the need for a $1 trillion, taxpayer funded, government mandated system. But naturally, if the price of something like health insurance goes up, I'm going to pay more. I really don't see why government should be concerned with how much or how little I pay for coverage.

And while there are some public assistance programs such as Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and state high risk pools, it is still very difficult for many Americans, especially those with health problems, to find affordable coverage. The 38 million citizens nationwide who currently live without health insurance, and the 45,000 of whom that will lose their lives because of lack of medical care, deserve better.

Betty neglects to mention Medicare, which we all already pay for out of each paycheck. She also dismisses the millions of Americans covered by Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP as "some."

Also, why not work first to address the issues impacting cost of care, such as lack of open competition among insurers across state lines or the cost of liability insurance paid by doctors and hospitals? This new law won't bring down the cost of medical care and doesn't really touch on the issue of tort reform.

On March 21, 2010, Congress made the long-overdue step toward bringing an end to the unconscionable practices of many insurance companies and toward ensuring all Americans have access to health care. With
my support, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as H.R. 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010. This legislation brings real health insurance reform Americans need now.

And creates a government mandate that criminalizes being a citizen who chooses not to purchase health coverage.

H.R. 3590 and H.R. 4872 will put a stop to the discriminatory practices of insurance companies that deny care based on pre-existing conditions, enabling 9,000 residents in Ohio's 13th District to gain coverage. Out-of-pocket expenses that insurance companies impose on my constituents will now be capped, protecting 1,700 residents from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.

This legislation also eliminates lifetime caps and annual caps on people who have paid for insurance, so people will have insurance when they need it most. Furthermore, seniors will greatly benefit, as the solvency of Medicare is strengthened, the costs of drugs lowered, and the donut hole closed. Overall, the health of the 13th District will greatly improve for the 420,000 who currently have health insurance and the 33,500 who, until now, have had to live without.

The law supposedly helps 40,000 of us in OH-13 but penalizes 400,000 of us and strips us of our freedom of choice and our liberty.

There are immediate benefits to Americans from the enactment of health care reform.

Immediate benefits such as:

- Costing AT&T $1 billion this quarter alone.
- Costing Verizon $970 million this quarter.
- Hitting up John Deere for $150 million.
- Caterpillar will lose $100 million.

The list goes on and on. The money these companies are losing would have otherwise gone to employees and shareholders in the form of wages, new jobs and earnings. Instead, the government reaps the benefits of the hard work of Americans and American companies. All told, economists predict the cost to American employers to be at least $14 billion this quarter. This quarter. We've got four years of this before this law even takes full effect!

Effective upon the President's signature on March 24, 2010, small businesses choosing to offer coverage will receive tax credits of up to 35% of the cost of health insurance premiums, and Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010 will receive a $250 rebate. Ninety days after the enactment, Americans who were previously denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions, will be eligible for health care through the use of a temporary high-risk pool. Six months after enactment, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying children coverage because of pre-existing conditions, young people can remain on their parents' policy until their twenty-sixth birthday, people cannot be dropped from their policy when they get sick, and no one will be subjected to lifetime coverage caps. Beginning January 1, 2011, preventive services for seniors will be exempted from deductibles under the Medicare program and co-payments for such services will be eliminated. Furthermore, as of 2014, health insurance exchanges in each state will be open to individuals and small employers, enabling them to comparison shop for standardized health packages.

For more than a year, Congress has considered, debated, and revised health care reform.

And ignored the voice of the majority of the people who called for common sense reform, not a trillion dollar monstrosity.

While this legislation is not perfect, it takes giant strides toward making health insurance more affordable and accessible for small businesses and individuals. It will reduce the deficit by more than $1.3 trillion in the next two decades

and increase all of our taxes

and it will finally curb the perpetual, skyrocketing costs of health care that have been drowning far too many American families for far too long.

How? The law doesn't adequately address the cost of care.

This legislation brings real reform to all Americans, and I am honored to support it.

And I'm honored to not vote for you in May, and if need be, in November.

Again, thank you for contacting my office concerning this very important matter. Please contact me if you have additional questions.


Betty Sutton
Member of Congress

Please do not respond to this email as this is an unattended mailbox. Please return to our website to respond (

Monday, April 5, 2010

Justin Wooden is challenging Betty Sutton in the OH-13 Democrat primary

I had a very pleasant and informative telephone conversation Friday afternoon with Justin Wooden, a Democrat challenging Betty Sutton for her House seat in Ohio's 13th Congressional District.

I have to admit - most politicians and political candidates I've met strike me as a bit stiff, all smiles, handshakes and affirmative nods and very little substance. But Justin immediately struck me with his genuine, down to earth demeanor and his willingness to speak openly and honestly about his beliefs and his views on good government. We spoke for 20 minutes or so about politics, the House race, jobs and what our representatives in Washington should be doing to represent their constituents.

During our talk, we found many points where we agreed - the need for industry and workers to come together and work together toward the common goal of running profitable businesses and creating jobs; the lack of responsiveness of public officials to the wishes and needs of the public; the waste of tax dollars and disregard for fiscal discipline in Washington; and the negative effects of government that has gotten too big for its own good.

Justin also stated a few ideas with which I disagreed. He supports more sweeping campaign finance reform initiatives than I do, for example. But he didn't make excuses for his beliefs and he based his views on sound judgment and reasoning. I could sense he was speaking from the heart while we were talking and I appreciated his honesty.

One has to imagine that kind of sincerity comes naturally to a man who has worked hard for a living, served his country for four years in the United States Navy and who hasn't made a career out of politics.

I also strongly agree with Justin's views on:
- 2nd Amendment rights - he's in favor of preserving the constitutionally guaranteed rights of law abiding citizens to bear arms.
- Military - a Navy vet, he knows how important soldiers are to America's safety and security and voices his support clearly on his Web site.
- Health care - supports government initiatives to reduce costs and increase competition among insurers, which are common sense ways to make coverage more affordable for everyone. His web site says he opposes the monstrosity of a bill that was signed into law in March.

No candidate is going to perfectly mirror any voter's views. We're all human beings with independent minds and independent views on the world, our community and our government. But after speaking with Justin and spending time on his web site learning more about where he stands on the issues, I can say I'm very comfortable with casting my vote for him in the May 4 Democrat primary.

If you haven't heard about Justin's candidacy or just want to learn a little more about where he stands, I urge you to visit his web site and decide whether Justin Wooden will earn your vote next month.