Blue Dogs & Healthcare

Jlue points us to an e-mail address that (I assume) will reach the members of the “blue dog” caucus of congressional democrats:

I’m assuming that Mike Ross is included on the list that will receive communications through this address.

So, if you are interested in the healthcare debate, and hope to influence a caucus that may prove to be the deciding faction, you can use this address to contact them. I sent them the following note:

I am a resident of Chattanooga, TN and write to you concerning the upcoming House negotiations on a healthcare package. I understand that your votes on the final package, collectively, may have a deciding impact on the outcome.

I understand from news reports that several of you have indicated that you will not support a package that increases the federal debt. I appreciate and applaud that stance. This is not a time when our nation can afford to take on more debt. However, I’m also cognizant of the fact that any meaningful reform will be complex and will be very costly, and will require new sources of revenue to balance. I’m also cognizant of the fact that the final product will likely cost more than any estimates made during deliberations.

Nevertheless, I hope that you each recognize that our nation is in a healthcare crisis. As a working middle class man with a family of four, I find my costs going up each year. Insurance premiums increase steadily and benefits decrease. Costs to me and my family are out of control – we can no longer truly afford them. Others, who change jobs or who lose their jobs because of our struggling economy may find themselves unable to obtain needed treatment at all. In short, the situation is dire.

So, I write not to ask for you to support or oppose any specific provision, or even to vote affirmatively on the house package as it comes to the floor. I ask only for your commitment to do the best you can to create a sustainable, effective and affordable health system in a country where we spend more on healthcare than most other developed nations and suffer among the highest infant mortality rates, and score poorly on many other measures of quality of care.

15 comments to Blue Dogs & Healthcare

  • Jan

    Thanks for the link and for being a good citizen yourself.

    we spend more on healthcare than most other developed nations and suffer among the highest infant mortality rates, and score poorly on many other measures of quality of care.

    It is a good letter and I appreciate your thoughtfulness, however, it might be good to know that we really aren’t among the highest mortality rate unless the number of abortions is included in the numbers. Then we are very high. If not, here is how we rate:

    We do pay a lot, but it is only meaningful if you compare what we receive per $1.00 with what other nations receive and also compared to per capita income.

    Also, I think our nation needs to have this discussion with the private sector providers. We stand a much better chance of improving the system if we insist that politics be left out and that cannot happen in Washington D.C where career politicians cut deals.

  • Infant mortality rate data is based on live births. A better link for infant mortality (from the same site) is here. You can see that the U.S. is 178th on a ranking of 219 countries from highest to lowest. That means that there are 41 countries with lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. – that is most of the developed nations. nations. Our infant mortality rate is 6.3 per 1000 live births, more than double that of Sweden (2.75).

    Overall health ratings from the WHO can be found here. The U.S. is number 71 in terms of overall health and number 2 in terms of cost as a percentage of GDP (at 15.4%).

    For a comparison, France spends 11.2% of its GDP on healthcare, has an infant mortality rate of 3.36 per 1000 live births and is ranked 4th in terms of overall health.

  • RW

    First, it’s shaky ground to compare U.S. infant mortality with reports from other countries. The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless. And some countries don’t reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates. For this very reason, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which collects the European numbers, warns of head-to-head comparisons by country.

  • Jan

    RW, That is very interesting information that I never knew. Thanks

  • Me, either. Come to think of it, these are probably not the only caveats that should go with such data. I should have considered that before posting the figures uncritically. My apologies.

  • I read the SayUncle quote posted up there in Recommended Reading and it is funny.

    Under it a commenter insinuated that the health care problem is blown out of proportion.

    It is not. It is a serious issue and given time will collapse in and on itself. It is breaking families and it is breaking businesses. It is not a laughing matter.

    If “let it fail” is your driving philosophy then by all means just keep going down the road we are going and it will fail.

    I am all for trying to get it right. I have no problem with taking time to do that. But this is not a can we can kick down the road for another 50 years.

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly, Buck. Also, I’m glad someone is reading from the side-bar. I try to keep it stocked with interesting, funny, or relevant material that is worth a look.

  • Oh I always loved the links to the old eye boogers. Suits me that they now have a permanent place.

    The Nirthblogger letter is interesting. And I still am not familiar with how the term “nirth” came to be. I know about birthers but have not stumbled across any nirthers. I first assumed it must be “New Earthers” but the letter is just typical loon.

    Anybody who thinks that they are going to overthrow a government militarily that spends a trillion dollars a year on the military is nutty beyond hope.

    That ain’t the way to do it at all.

  • Pam Geller of “Atlas Shrugged” made a typo in the word “birth certificate” that drew mockery from the internet… soon “nirth certificate” became a meme, and “birther” was altered to match the meme.

  • I appreciate that explanation very much. It can be hard to always be aware of all internet traditions.

  • RW

    Pam Geller of “Atlas Shrugged” made a typo in the word “birth certificate” that drew mockery from the internet… soon “nirth certificate” became a meme, and “birther” was altered to match the meme.

    I tell ya, a lot of political bloggers are becoming more & more like Trekkies every day.

  • I thought Trekkies were the pool from which political bloggers were originally drawn?

  • RW

    LOL! It sure seems that way, sometimes. With all the ‘inside baseball’ language that is bandied about, I often (very) remember the character “Noel Shemsky” from my all-time favorite sitcom “Frasier” saying – in answering the question of what he was doing recently – that he was almost finished “writing my Klingon to English translation book”. I raise my hand to God that’s the image that comes to my mind when I see some of these blogospheric references that give the bloggers such giggles (while 98% of the nation would just look….nod…and slowly back away if they saw the transcripts of the text). Bipartisan, btw.

    Back on topic: Here’s yet another reason why there is no doubt that ours is the best medicine in the world: A former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, had successful heart surgery yesterday at the Cleveland Heart Center, according to a statement sent by e-mail from his party headquarters in Rome.

    Mr. Berlusconi, 70, had surgery “to correct an irregular heart beat,” according to the statement. “Professor Andrea Natale, the head of the medical team, confirmed that the operation was a perfect success and that the normal, post-operative process is under way.”

    Italy was #3 on the WHO list that smijer graciously linked (thanks, great info). Apparently, when it came to saving his own life, Mr. Berlusconi would rather have the #73 USA medical care than the “free” benefits that the plebes in Italy are subject to.

    Anyone want to venture a guess as to why he made that CHOICE? Let’s all keep in mind Occam’s razor when working those gray cells in our brains, now….

  • There is a girl at work that used to use the term “wanker” a lot in every day conversation. She’s from South Pittsburgh, so I couldn’t imagine where she could have picked it up except on the political blogs. Finally I broke down and asked her… Nope… I’m still puzzled about where she got that.

    Anyway, I don’t know who the surgeon was in that Cleveland hospital, but I’m assuming that he made that choice because he had some 50 million odd euros burning a hole in his pocket.

    I guess the solution to the healthcare crisis is to make sure everybody is filthy rich so they can afford all this choice. Since it was my idea, we can start with me.

  • Jan

    Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease and when it comes to health care, this is probably going to be the case. It will NEVER be perfect, but in this country, we have as good as it gets.

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