A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Dear All – I want to share a letter written on health by Thomas Hartmann who is a syndicated radio host. In his open letter to President Obama he cuts through much of the “debate” that is surrounding the proposal for a public option and gets at the heart of the matter.

We already have a public option….it is Medicare. And while it has flaws, it works a lot better than having no coverage at all.

Hartmann’s letter reminds us that a public option does not have to spiral us into debt, socialism, or “death panels.” Nor will it heave orphans into the streets or put the elderly or disabled on buses out of town. It will instead give life to millions of Americans who currently make choices between paying rent or going to the doctor.

I encourage you, if you like this letter, to use it creatively – send it to friends or family or even better, your Reps and Senators and encourage them to not give up on the public option because the health care industry is flexing all its monetary might…Much Peace Liz

Dear President Obama,

I understand you’re thinking of dumping your “public option” because of all the demagoguery by Sarah Palin and Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich and their crowd on right-wing radio and Fox. Fine. Good idea, in fact.

Instead, let’s make it simple. Please let us buy into Medicare.

It would be so easy. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with this so-called “public option” that’s a whole new program from the ground up. Medicare already exists. It works. Some people will like it, others won’t — just like the Post Office versus FedEx analogy you’re so comfortable with.

Just pass a simple bill — it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people — that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.

So it’s revenue neutral!

To make it available to people of low income, raise the rates slightly for all currently non-eligible people (like me — under 65) to cover the cost of below-200%-of-poverty people. Revenue neutral again.

Most of us will do damn near anything to get out from under the thumbs of the multi-millionaire CEOs who are running our current insurance programs. Sign me up!

This lets you blow up all the rumors about death panels and grandma and everything else: everybody knows what Medicare is. Those who scorn it can go with Blue Cross. Those who like it can buy into it. Simplicity itself.

Of course, we’d like a few fixes, like letting Medicare negotiate drug prices and filling some of the holes Republicans and AARP and the big insurance lobbyists have drilled into Medicare so people have to buy “supplemental” insurance, but that can wait for the second round. Let’s get this done first.

Simple stuff. Medicare for anybody who wants it. Private health insurance for those who don’t. Easy message. Even Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley can understand it. Sarah Palin can buy into it, or ignore it. No death panels, no granny plugs, nothing. Just a few sentences.

Replace the “you must be disabled or 65” with “here’s what it’ll cost if you want to buy in, and here’s the sliding scale of subsidies we’ll give you if you’re poor, paid for by everybody else who’s buying in.” (You could roll back the Reagan tax cuts and make it all free, but that’s another rant.)

We elected you because we expected you to have the courage of your convictions. Here’s how. Not the “single payer Medicare for all” that many of us would prefer, but a simple, “Medicare for anybody who wants to buy in.”


Thom Hartmann


Comments on: "Let’s make it simple…a letter on health care by Thomas Hartmann" (2)

  1. Paulynn said:

    I agree with this letter. I too want to see a public option. Wisconsin has a great Badger care system that works too. We need something that the poor can afford and provides the needed health care for them.

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