Here in summary form is the letter I sent today to Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree:
Americans of all persuasions are being subjected to a blizzard of disinformation from well-funded interests devoted to preserving the status quo in the area of healthcare. These advocates are NEVER off message, and they never seem to run out of money.
A single-payer system won’t work, they say. “Socialized” medicine is doomed to failure, they say. Significant changes to our current healthcare system will compromise our freedom, they say.
These claims, simply put, are self-serving lies on the part of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Perhaps it is coincidence, for example, that Big Pharma now spends more on marketing prescription medications directly to consumers than it does on research and development, but the history of American healthcare over the last 30 years suggests otherwise.
The question now is whether leaving millions and millions of Americans without the ability to pay for healthcare is really an acceptable cost of doing business in order to protect record profits in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. These industries clearly believe so.
I’m asking you to consider whether this thinking represents an America whose government you want to serve. What will America have become when, in the eyes of its elected representatives, corporate profits trump the right to life itself for millions of its citizens?
Here are some simple truths that special interests attempt to stifle again and again:
- Single-payer healthcare in Canada, Great Britain and France is a genuine success. Citizens of those nations pay less and receive better care than Americans.
- Americans now pay more than ever before for healthcare, yet the health of Americans does NOT improve. America’s infant mortality rates, for example, are shockingly high for the developed world. Americans’ life expectancy lags behind much of the developed world.
- One American in six under the age of 65, about 46 million people, now live without health insurance of any kind. The reality for these people is that hospitals turn them away if they cannot pay. For such people, American “freedom” means the freedom to die for the sake of the status quo.
- It shouldn’t have to be said that these 46 million American lives matter, but it does have to said. Repeatedly. The current healthcare system condemns many of the uninsured to death every single day in order to protect profits.
America’s healthcare actuaries have the data at their fingertips to say exactly how much profits increase with each American condemned to such a death. Perhaps during the current debate you will have the opportunity to ask what this number is. I think the number would do a lot to clarify the priorities of those who defend the current system.
As a resident of Maine and a voter in every single election since 1968, I am counting on you to do your part to ensure that 2009 is the year that America finally begins to find its way out of the national disgrace of our current healthcare system.
By the reckoning of some, I’m just another malcontent. Maybe writing and sending this letter was just a waste of time, but I have to believe that at some point people will decide that letting people die just to increase profits is just plain un-American.