Thursday, May 5, 2011

I completely support all Americans having access to health care.

Feb 10 2011
Dear Governor Walker,

You have directed Attorney General Van Hollen to join the legal challenge of the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). I vehemently disagree with that action based on twenty-five years of state employment managing the State health insurance program, as an insurance analyst at the office of the commissioner of insurance, two stints working for private insurers and decade on the HIRSP grievance committee.  I have heard the stories of people dying only because of a lack of health insurance, losing their homes in order to afford vital health care to their children, being unable to change jobs due to their or a family member’s health because the new employer doesn’t want to pay higher premiums, kids who are bankrupt at 22 because they had no health insurance and were in an accident, seniors who reduce or eliminate prescription drugs when they reach the donut hole, and on and on.

I request your office’s response to the following questions.  I do not want the response of DHFS or any other agency.  I want your answer.

1.       Nationally thousands of small employers are offering health insurance benefits to their employees for the first time, or the first time in years, thanks to the premium credits under PPACA .  Small employers need to offer health insurance to attract high quality, long-term employees.  As you open Wisconsin for business, how will you explain to small employers that you do not support providing tax breaks to provide this vital benefit?
2.       For the first time, parents of critically and chronically ill children can provide health insurance for their children because PPACA prohibits pre-existing condition limitations for children under age 19.  If the law is repealed, insurance companies will again be able to deny coverage to these ill children.  How will you explain your opposition to covering ill children to the parents of these kids?  How will you explain to chronically ill adults that you support health insurance companies excluding the very coverage they need most as they are unable to benefit from the elimination of pre-existing condition limitations in 2014?
3.       Many young people consider themselves to be invincible and forego insurance if they do not have it available through employment.  With today’s economic environment, many are unable to obtain full-time employment.  Under PPACA, they can remain on their parent’s coverage until they turn age 27.  As these young people lose access to coverage if the law is repealed, how will you explain to Wisconsin citizens and voters that you don’t want them to have access to their parent’s insurance? The taxes that parents pay on health insurance for non-tax dependents puts more money in the state budget.
4.       To the critically ill individual or family who lose their insurance because of a very costly illness that causes them to reach an arbitrarily set benefit or lifetime maximum, how will you explain that you support that arbitrary limit?  Lifetime maximums have little impact on the overall premium rate.
5.       Medicare Part D has helped millions of Medicare participants afford vital prescription drugs, but once they hit the donut hole, they have over $2,000 in out-of-pocket costs before they receive any further assistance from Medicare Part D.  Without the coverage, many seniors reduce or skip their doses and end up hospitalized or dead.  The PPACA will close the donut hole, beginning this year with 50% coverage during the donut hole.  How will you explain to seniors that you don’t support helping them to afford their necessary medications?

I understand that most of your opposition to the PPACA is based on future penalties to employers who do not provide health insurance and that all citizens will be required to have health insurance.  As to the first point, the penalties are minimal at first and even at their highest, it’s far less costly than it is to provide private insurance.  If all Americans have insurance, it will increase the risk pool, bringing down the premium costs for virtually everyone.  And it will take some of the pressure off of employers to provide health insurance to attract the best employees.  As an American citizen, I care far more about the common good and my fellow human than I do about insurance CEOs.  I completely support all Americans having access to health care.  It should be a right, not a privilege.

I look forward to your reply.  I also suggest having some state employee set up an automatic reply.  Most public figures have such an email reply.  I know that you and your staff are very busy,  but when constituents take the time to contact you, it is polite to acknowledge it.


Beth Ritchie

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