Dear Mr. Dingell,
After reading your recent piece in the Dearborn/Dearborn Heights Press and Guide I felt a need to prepare a response, which I sent to the P&G the next day. Two weeks have now passed, and my letter has still not appeared. Apparently my letter was too long to be printed. I believe that my comments deserve to be heard, at least by you.
You claimed in your piece that America has the best doctors and medical professionals in the world, but we lag behind nearly all industrialized societies in nearly every health-related statistic. Isn't quality of doctors and medical professionals an important health care statistic?
Your piece is replete with criticism of the present system, and is lavish with praise for the House bill, which you claim to have written. You have not spoken to those provisions of the bill that have scared your senior constituents (approximately 11% of your constituents are over 65).
You claimed that the Congressional Budget Office has found the legislation to be deficit neutral, but you fail to mention that this is achieved, in part, by a massive reduction ($500 Billion) in Medicare funding, at a time when the Medicare rolls are expected to increase by 30%. This fact alone has alarmed many of my friends, who are seniors (and who have read large parts of the bill). How can you reduce funding while increasing the number of people insured without limiting the care provided?
Knowing how unpopular the cuts in Medicare that you are proposing will be, the president's budget director, Peter Orszag, recently urged Congress to delegate its authority over Medicare to a new, presidentially appointed bureaucracy that wouldn't be accountable to the public. They'd decide what plans cover, how much leeway our doctors will have and what seniors will get under Medicare. As noted by Betsy McCaughey, in a recent edition of the New York Post, at least two of President Obama's top health advisers should never be trusted with that power.
She reminds us that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research unabashedly declares that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others" (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008). He criticizes Americans for being too "enamored with technology" and is determined to reduce access to it. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled. How does your bill protect us from bureaucrats who think like that?
She notes that Dr. David Blumenthal, another key Obama adviser, recommends slowing medical innovation to control health spending. Blumenthal is a promoter of government health-spending controls, though he concedes they're "associated with longer waits" and "reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices" (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001). He believes that the timely care Americans get is not worth the cost. I believe that most cancer patients would disagree.
I attended your recent town hall meeting in Romulus. I was quite disappointed that your answers to many of the concerns raised were terse, and unsupported. “Is abortion covered?” and “will illegal aliens be covered?” drew responses of No, absolutely not, and when the questioner expressed doubt, or tried to follow up you shouted him/her down with "I wrote the Bill". The next day, you admitted to Frank Beckman that you’d read much, but not all of the bill.
You seem to have forgotten that you are also expected to represent those constituents in your district that do not share your vision. Do you plan to just dismiss as "troublemakers" those of your constituents who don’t agree with you?
John P. Connolly