Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Angry Letter to My Blue Dog CongressCritter

Last week we (or "current resident") received a slick 4-color 6x10 card stock mailer that looks at first glance to have come from our NC-11 congressional rep, Heath Shuler. At the top the reverse-on-blue header reads:

"Congressman Shuler Is Fighting To Make Medicare Prescription Coverage Even Better"

and on the bottom reverse-on-red the italicized message reads:

"Call Congressman Health Shuler today at 202-224-3121. Tell him thanks for fighting to improve Medicare without making seniors pay more, and ask him to keep on fighting until we get the job done."

The wording struck me a little odd. Why would Heath tell me to thank him for his notably atrocious Blue Dog position on health care reform? I mean, it's not like he cares what Democrats in his district have to say about the issue. So I flipped the mailer over and read on the bottom of the address/postage space:

"Paid for by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America."

Whoa. Billy Tauzin's notorious PhRMA lobby. The one that got a secret back-room deal with Obama before this issue ever got to committees in the House and Senate. And who are now sending deceptive mailers like this all over the country as part of a $150 million PR campaign to promote their continued obscene profits on the backs of senior citizens, while the mandate to force all citizens to purchase junk policies from the for-profit insurance industry amounts to a ~$12,000 per year (plus steep annual hikes at four or more times the rate of inflation) tax increase on the middle class. Earmarked directly to the Murder-by-Spreadsheet crime syndicate, this porker is uglier than Hogzilla.

FACT: According to an analysis of the proposed Part D changes by the Wall Street Journal, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that any decrease in average spending on prescriptions by seniors will more than be made up for by an increase in premiums seniors must pay for Part D. CBS News reported that CBO has confirmed seniors will be paying 20% more for Part D coverage by 2019 under this giveaway to Big Pharma.

FACT: The Baucus plan also abets another huge giveaway to insurers by allowing them to charge older people (age 50-64) up to five times as much as younger people for the insurance policies everyone will be required to purchase.

FACT: The per capita (per person) cost of ALL health care in the U.S. per year comes to right about $3,750. That is all care, for all people, insured and uninsured, Medicare, VA, Medicaid, SCHIP and charity. Why would anyone want to pay $12,000 a year for what actually costs $3,750? A government-run single-payer system could be paid for by graduated taxation based on actual costs and those taxes would be far cheaper even to the richest of the rich than the cost of a single for-profit insurance policy.

Links:

NYT: Drug Makers to Back Baucus Plan With Ad Dollars

NYT: How Much Should Older Americans Pay for Insurance?

WSJ: Part-D Offsets

CBS: 20% increase in Part-D premiums

According to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics Shuler has received the following contributions from shady players:

$195,262 from the health sector employees and PACs.
$13,750 from health insurance companies.
$74,800 from Big Pharma.
$77,062 from health professionals.
$27,900 from hospitals.
$10,500 from the nursing home industry.

$399,274 in total. Now, the figures from CRP are what the Blue Dogs (individually) have received since 1989 from the PACs and pools of various health related industries, but Shuler's only been in office since 2007. So that's quite the hefty haul over less than three years!

Below is the letter I have written in response to this blatant insult from the Drug Pusher's Union Propaganda Squad...
__________

Dear Congressman Shuler;

The four registered voters in our NC-11 household were appalled by a slick mailer we received last week from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America urging us to "thank" you for working for them instead of us in the matter of health care reform. This letter is to lodge formal complaint and explain once again why we do NOT want either the insurers or the drug companies writing this necessary legislation.

Our formal complaint is to the information provided in this mailer that you work for Big Pharma and not for us, the constituents you were elected - by us - to represent. This lobby group actually expects us to congratulate you for serving out-of-state corporate donors instead of us. We most certainly do not congratulate you for succumbing to rampant D.C. corruption in record time.

The mailer talks about how Big Pharma's contribution to the reform effort will help close the Medicare Part D "donut hole" they themselves wrote into the original bill to ensure obscene profits and force American seniors on fixed incomes to pay more for necessary drugs than anyone else in the world. As well as prevent Medicare by law from negotiating lower drug prices, as all other first world nations (with universal, single-payer health care) do and have done so successfully for so long.

In fact, according to an analysis of the proposed Part D changes under HR 3200 by the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that any decrease in average spending on prescriptions by drug-dependent seniors will more than be made up for by an increase in premiums seniors must pay for Part D. CBS News reports that CBO determined seniors will be paying 20% more for coverage by 2019. 20% is very significant to a great many seniors in your district, Mr. Shuler.

Two of the voters in this household - myself and my husband - will be 68 years old in 2019. Thanks to the recent destruction of the nation's economy by greedy bankers and insurers (whom we and our children and grandchildren were forced to bail out to the tune of trillions in completely unaccountable dollars), our only income will be Social Security, and our only access to health care will be Medicare. So you are going to deliberately rob us further on orders from your corporate masters? That is completely unacceptable.

As proud long-time residents of WNC, registered Democratic voters and active participants in Democratic politics, we will be lobbying hard and very publicly beginning immediately in favor of a primary challenge to you next year from a candidate more committed to both the people of this district and the Democratic Party. You brought this on yourself, as we were all delighted when you were willing to run against Charles Taylor. We would have supported you for a very long career in politics if you'd just been less willing to sell us out in favor of corporations who do NOT vote in this district and cannot keep you in power.

Though they probably can make you rich, so you may wish to go ahead and apply for that post-Congress Big Pharma lobbying job now.

In Sincerely Sad Disappointment,

[the four of us registered voters, address in NC-11]
__________

Wanted: Dedicated public servant and Democrat with an understanding of policy issues that impact the residents of Western North Carolina, to vie for Heath Shuler's seat in Congress in the 2010 primary.

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