My turn: Begich's health care vote was payback

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010

I want to thank Sen. Mark Begich for his letter explaining his vote for health care reform. A few weeks ago, I contacted his office expressing concerns that the House plan did not include any regulations for tort reform. Shortly thereafter, Begich appeared on national television and stated that "tort reform was tried and had failed in Alaska, and doctors had actually left the state because of tort reform."

Which study came up with those statistics, and who funded the study? By then, you surely knew that since Texas instituted tort reforms, hospitals there reported 70 percent fewer lawsuits, doctors averaged a 21 percent reduction in premiums, Texas added 1,887 new physicians specifically as a result of lawsuit reform, billions of dollars were cut from defensive medicine spending, and 430,000 additional Texans have health insurance today as a direct result of liability reforms, all at no cost to Texan taxpayers.

You worked on the cost containment amendment, yet you left out tort reform, the least- expensive and best-known way to lower health care costs.

"You didn't go to Washington to conduct business as usual," Begich said.

More than $178,446,000 was donated to democrats by attorneys during the 2008 election cycle, and that number is well on the way to being exceeded for this cycle. What kind of business do you call this, shared among democrats? Attorneys are the only special interest group to benefit from killing tort reform.

Each state, including Alaska, will have to cough up billions of dollars to support this plan (except for Nebraska that is). So how is this helping Alaskans? I am 66 years old and my primary care provider has informed me that he can't afford to take on any more Medicare patients. It seems the rationing has already begun here and elsewhere. The Mayo Clinic in Glendale, Arizona just dropped Medicare. Severe health care rationing will escalate when this bill takes effect.

You said you insisted on protections for small business with 50 or fewer employees. Where were you when Democrats excluded small construction businesses from this provision but gave labor unions a pass? Contractors make up the third largest employer group in the state. How many small contractors will have to shutter their doors or pay heavy penalties? How much will construction costs escalate and how many jobs in Alaska will be lost because of the bill you voted for?

If this bill is the wonderful cure-all that you portray it to be, why do your party leaders feel the need to hide this bill and keep secret the final negotiations from we the people? This is our money (one sixth of the entire economy) and our grandchildren's futures you are messing with.

Begich, you heard the evidence that several parts of this bill are unconstitutional, yet you voted for it anyway. Have you forgotten the oath of office you took to "uphold the constitution of the United States so help you God?" Our rights are being trampled. It appears your only concern is paying back those who orchestrated the false conviction of Sen. Ted Stevens that got you elected, who have still not been held accountable, and who are now well on their way to intentionally destroying capitalism, freedom, security, and the American dream. You must be proud.

• Andy Rauwolf is a Ketchikan resident.



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