As we discussed at our December meeting, I (finally) wrote to Jason Altmire urging support for HR 676. The letter ensues:
February 9, 2009
Rep. Jason Altmire
332 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Altmire:
I am writing on behalf of the Western Pennsylvania Progressives, a new political action group composed of progressives in Butler, Mercer, Lawrence, Beaver, and Allegheny Counties, regarding HR 676, the Physicians National Health Plan. A number of our members have discussed this issue with you in the past, and, while to date you have not committed to support this legislation, we believe that the recent collapse of the economy has made single-payer, cradle to grave, first dollar coverage more essential than ever. The rising ranks of unemployed, underemployed, uninsured, and underinsured is nothing short of a national emergency. If this occurred in a concentrated area, as happens in a natural disaster or terrorist attack, the federal government would have declared it an emergency, and decisive action would have been undertaken at a national level (provided Bush wasn’t still President). The lack of spectacular headlines does nothing to diminish the effect on the victims of this travesty.
Recently, President Obama, in response to the Republican attempts to gut his stimulus plan and replace it with more tax cuts, derided their plan as a return to the failed policies of the past. Unfortunately, every other plan to reform health care recently proposed, including the President’s own plan, relies on our current system of health care finance, effectively returning to the failed policies of the past.
Inadequate health care is essentially a disease of the working class, the class that makes up the clear majority of your constituents. All of us have been affected by this national epidemic, either personally or through a family member or close friend. While there has been only minimal interest in HR 676 in Congress, public support has grown rapidly. A clear majority believe that a single-payer (government managed) health plan would best serve our citizens. The American College of Physicians, the second largest physician group in the country has supported the plan. For the first time, a survey published by the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 62% of physicians support a national single-payer health plan. In our own Congressional district, after the Beaver County Commissioners discovered the county would realize $6.83 million annually, they passed a resolution endorsing HR 676. Other municipalities nation-wide are doing the same.
I will not belabor the myriad of benefits of the plan, as I believe you are well versed in the details of the plan. The Western Pennsylvania Progressives, on behalf of the working people of the 4th Congressional District, urge you to take the lead and endorse HR 676.