Tuesday, January 10, 2017

An open letter to my senators - updated

Once again, we need to address our country's health care system. First it was medicare reform and how that was going to affect the outcome and insurance standards that would effect the entire system, now it is the entire system is being revamped. We must get together with the powers that be and make our voices heard again. I encourage everyone that I know to contact their senators with a similar letter as the one I have posted below. I got this format from the Amp'd Podcast website. Thank you to Peggy Chenoweth and Dave McGill for taking the time to prepare this form of activism.

Dear Senators Boozman & Cotton
My name is Keith Allen, and in 2015 I lost my leg after fighting a yearlong battle with a MRSA infection. I am an active member of my community and enjoy hiking, fishing and working with my daughter’s softball team.
I am writing to you regarding the pending discussion regarding repealing and replacing The Affordable Care Act. Whatever the ultimate outcome of those discussions, there are two potential changes that could hurt people like me who rely on a prosthesis to live a healthy and productive life. I am therefore asking you to continue protecting amputees by (1) ensuring that prosthetics remain classified as an essential health benefit, and (2) prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions.
As it stands today, virtually every state in the U.S. considers artificial limbs an essential health benefit. This means that insurers cannot set annual or lifetime limitations on the provision of these devices. If this were to change as part of a repeal of current federal law, things would return to the way they were before 2010: insurers will issue policies offering only 1 prosthesis per lifetime, or that have dollar limits on prosthetics so low that amputees like me would either have to try to pay for the entire cost out of pocket or forgo a prosthesis altogether.
Similarly, if repeal of the current law results in insurers being once again able to assert pre-existing condition exclusions, amputees like me will suffer. My need for prosthetic care and treatment is both regular and permanent. If, during a transition from one insurance plan to another, an insurer can refuse to cover any costs associated with my prosthesis, the results could be catastrophic. What happens if my prosthesis breaks? Or if I need modifications to it because I am suffering from pain and tissue breakdown as a result of compromised fit? If we are forced to bear those costs ourselves, I and hundreds of thousands of other amputees who rely on prostheses face the prospect of crippling medical debt or life without a prosthesis.
Thanks to the high-quality care of my prosthetist and modern prosthetic technology, I am able to live a full and complete life. But that can only continue if I have access to these qualified health professionals and the right prosthetic components. The only thing that makes that possible is an insurance industry that covers medically necessary prostheses without being able to assert completely arbitrary annual or lifetime limits and pre-existing condition exclusions.
As you grapple with the ongoing challenges of healthcare in the United States in the 21st century, I am asking that you protect amputees and allow us to continue to have access to the professionals and devices that allow us to live active, healthy and productive lives. Please make sure that prosthetics remain covered as an essential health benefit and that pre-existing condition exclusions cannot be asserted against amputees.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I will closely watch events in Washington over the coming weeks and months and will be extremely interested in your vote(s) on these matters.
Keith Allen

One thing that we must remember is that no matter who is in office, their primary concern is to balance their spending while providing the best care to the public. Many other organizations have large lobbying groups that speak for them, people like ACLU, NAACP, the NRA, and others that have serious political clout. However, if we all stand up and fight, we can make our voice heard. I encourage each and every one of you to send your senator an email, a tweet, a facebook message, an instagram, what ever platform you use, and make your voice heard!  See other ways you can be active in the fight HERE

********** UPDATE **************
I received the following email from Senator Cotton. To say I am disappointed that he did not even read my email is an understatement.

Mr. Keith Allen
[address redacted]

Dear Keith:
Thank you for contacting me about Social Security. It's good to hear from you, as always. 

Like you, I believe in the important role that Medicare and Social Security play in protecting the elderly and the disabled from poverty. We must fulfill our promise to current retirees and those who are approaching retirement, while also strengthening these programs for future generations. 

While millions of Americans rely on these programs, unfortunately, politicians have put them on a path towards insolvency. The most recent report from the Social Security trustees confirmed that 2014 was the fifth consecutive year in which the program paid out more than it took in from with a $39 billion deficit for the year. Not to mention, our national debt is expected to grow nearly 50% to $27 trillion and consume more than 100% of our total economy. 

If we are to maintain our promises to both current and future retirees and save future generations from the crushing burden of repaying our debt, we must implement reforms that make Social Security and Medicare stronger and more affordable in the long term. 

We must reform these programs so current retirees can continue to receive the benefits on which they rely and so future beneficiaries can plan effectively for their retirement. As I evaluate proposals to change entitlement programs in the future, I will keep three principles in the forefront of my thinking: (1) opposition to tax increases; (2) changes should not impact those who are retired or approaching retirement; and (3) reforms should expand, not limit, patient choice in health care. Rather than ignore the problem now and face painful consequences down the road, I believe we must enact reforms now to guarantee the integrity of these programs.
I'm truly honored to serve as your Senator; please know that your interests and affairs have my unceasing attention. Always feel free to call my office at (202) 224-2353 or visit www.cotton.senate.gov.

Tom Cotton 

United States Senator
*****************  UPDATE *******************

I just received a second letter from the Senior Senator from Arkansas, and while this is still not what I wanted to hear, at least it appears that the Senator or his staff actually read my letter before replying. This response was better than the last and hopefully, Senator Boozman will have a little more influence than his junior partner.
[Reply from Sen John Boozman (R) AR] 1/23/2017

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on the current state of healthcare in our country. It is good to hear from you. 
Like most Americans, I believe our healthcare system needs substantive reform. While there are well-intended goals that I support in President Obama's healthcare law, such as ensuring those with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, the fact remains that accessibility and affordability are still serious problems that elected officials, community health advocates, hospitals and providers must work hard to address.  
President Trump, Speaker Ryan and Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions have all said that Congress should repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously. I agree with my colleagues in their commitment to a careful and orderly transition to a patient-centered health care system that truly is affordable, not just in name but in practice, and that actually works for the American people.  
I believe we must embrace market-based reforms that lower healthcare costs. From cross-state insurance purchases and healthcare co-operatives to medical malpractice reform and medical record modernization initiatives, it is critical that we implement responsible reforms. Moreover, we must preserve and protect the role of patients, providers and physicians as the principle healthcare decision-makers, not the federal government.  
It is time for us to come together and find commonsense solutions to our challenges. America functions best when we work through our differences and tackle our country's problems. Moving forward, I am committed to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reform our healthcare system so it makes sense for all Americans. Please be assured that I will take your thoughts into consideration as we continue this discussion.  
Again, thank you for contacting me to share your views. Please visit www.boozman.senate.gov to sign up for my e-newsletter, request assistance with a federal agency, or learn more about my efforts on behalf of the people of Arkansas. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
John Boozman
U.S. Senator

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