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Dear Senator: Please Pass Public Option and Save My Life

Photo credit: John Small
Love letters to Congress

Health insurance lobbyists and Big Pharma lobbyists have billions of dollars to spend on diluting or killing health care reform legislation in Congress.

But millions of Americans have millions of personal stories of pain and heartache with a broken health care system that’s a disgrace to the United States, massively costly for little comparative return and, worse of all, literally kills people.

Yesterday, grassroots union leaders came to Washington, D.C., to deliver nearly 50,000 letters from people asking—pleading—their senators to listen to their stories and pass health care reform that’s affordable, includes a public option, doesn’t force working families to pay more than we are already, holds insurance corporations accountable and requires employers to pay their fair share.

The action is part of a massive push by the union movement around health care reform and included yesterday’s National Call-in Day for Health Care Reform and personal visits to lawmakers.

Here are a few samples of what people wrote to Congress. So, will Congress read these letters? Or will they pocket the campaign cash from Big Pharma and Big Health Insurance and turn their backs on America? (H/t to my AFL-CIO blogger colleague Mike Hall for compiling these excerpts.)

From Delaware, Cathy writes Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.):

I am without health care at this time and can’t afford my meds. I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and uncontrolled diabetes. If this bill passes, I will get access to the medicine I need to save my life. Please support a strong public option.

Roy in Fargo, N.D., tells Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who voted against a public option in the Senate Finance Committee, that he has health insurance but still cannot afford health care.

I have over $10,000 in medical bills, and something needs to be done. I voted for you to represent my views. Please support public option.

"I voted for you to represent my views." What a unique thought.

Here’s one from Margaret in Newark, Del., who doesn’t mince words in her letter to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), another one who voted against a public option in the Senate Finance Committee last week:

Health care is too expensive. Some of us have no health insurance or Medicare. Fix the health care bill now. It should include a strong public option and ensure that employers provide coverage to their employees or pay into a pot.

Jonathan from Maple Falls, Wyo., tells Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who supports taxing health care premiums—and who voted against a public option—that he is opposed to having his health care benefits taxed.

I am the sole source of income for a family of five, and, quite frankly, this proposed tax would cut into my grocery and housing money….I have a family of five, a 30-year mortgage, car, insurance costs, etc. You do the math!

Mmm. Is basic math a requirement for the Senate?

In Omaha, Pamela writes to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) that she recently had appendix surgery and her health care provider only covered $50 out of $17,672.

I am a production employee…and have been paying into my health plan for over two years and feel this is completely ludicrous.

Let’s see. A health care provider that puts $50 toward a nearly $18,000 surgery is paying 0.2829 percent of the bill. Note to provider: Maybe next time pay only $25—that way, you might be able to guarantee the CEO a bigger bonus. 

Charles in Arlington, Wash., says that when he voted for Barack Obama and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), "I voted for change" and that includes health care reform.

We need, and the people have expressed their desire for, real health care reform. This means including the most important aspect of health care reform,  providing the American citizens with a public option. This is the ONLY way we can be sure that the health insurance companies in these United States will deal with their clients in an honest and fair fashion.

Charles voted for change in November. And so did the majority of voters.

Hello, Congress? Can you hear us now?

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