Response to Barbara Boxer

barbara_boxer I received the following letter from Senator Boxer today.  Inline are my thoughts.

Dear Friend:
I need your help.
Making sure America’s families have access to affordable, quality health care is a complex challenge, but one we simply cannot afford to ignore any longer.

Who is ignoring it?  I’m not; you’re not.

The status quo is unsustainable:

I agree.

46 million Americans have no health insurance.

Yes, we also have about 30 million unemployed Americans.  If you will focus on growing employment, many of the 46 million will be able to afford health insurance.  You point out that health care costs too much; how will your plan reduce the cost of healthcare?

America also has about 60 million smokers.  About 9 million of the 46 million uninsured people you mention are smokers – should they be allowed to continue smoking while we are paying for their healthcare?  Is it fair that they don’t pay for their own insurance when they’re buying cigarettes which kill them?

The U.S. spends more than twice as much on health care per person than most other industrialized nations, yet we rank 29th out of 30 industrialized nations on infant mortality.

This doesn’t appear to be true (see stats).  While it is sad that the mortality rate is not lower, it is not clear that this is an indictment of the American medical system.  Moreover, how is your plan going to fix it?  I don’t see any evidence that it will.

America has the best medical care in the world – bar none.  Americans don’t fly out of country to have surgery – to the contrary, foreigners fly here to have surgery.  The best medical care costs money, and the counter examples you provide are not representative of the entire system.  Yes, we should work to reduce the infant mortality rate, but we should do many things – including cure cancer too.

Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have more than doubled in the last nine years.
And, a recent study found that, if we do nothing, families in many states, including California, will have to spend 40% or more of their pre-tax income on health insurance through their employer.

Yes – why are they paid pre-tax?  Why do health insurers get paid with pre-tax dollars while the rest of us are paid with after-tax dollars?  Stop subsidizing the medical industry with pre-tax dollars and costs will come down.

The time for action is now.

I agree – you mentioned that already.  But your plan doesn’t even address the problems you’ve listed, so I don’t think it is a good one.

What about the rising cost of malpractice insurance?  Why don’t you fix that?  Oh – right – your husband is a lawyer.  You wouldn’t want to take away his revenue stream.

As I work with my Senate colleagues to craft healthcare reform legislation, I ask you to help me by sharing your stories and experiences – both good and bad – with our healthcare system. 
Please go to  to share your stories with me. 
I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for the letter.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

3 thoughts on “Response to Barbara Boxer

  • July 25, 2009 at 2:15 am

    It is true that foreigners fly to America for medical treatment, but it is not true that a significant number of Americans do not go abroad for surgery and the like. The Wikipedia article on Medical Tourism has a fair number of sources, one of which is this article about Thailand’s medical tourism industy:;contentBody
    In it, Americans are interviewed about their experiences seeking surgury overseas at drastically more afordable prices than would be found stateside.

  • July 25, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Did you send this to her? I think you should. I already wrote an email to Feinstein.

  • July 25, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    @Malcolm: Don’t believe the hype. I’ve searched for good data on this, and what is mostly available are statistics from companies that want to sell you a surgery overseas. 60 minutes isn’t reliable and doesn’t cite sources. Does anyone have a reliable source?

    The numbers I see say that anywhere from 200K to 750K Americans traveled abroad for medical care last year, but don’t say what procedures they sought. One source even said that this figure includes retirees that went to Mexico to retire. For me, that doesn’t count as going abroad to seek treatment. I discredit overseas treatment of cosmetic surgery, because that won’t be covered under the Obama Health Plan either. But we have all known for quite a while that cosmetic procedures elsewhere is far cheaper than here.

    We’re in a global economy, and it is good that patients have choice for elective procedures overseas at reduced prices. But the number seeking treatment for heart disease or other abroad is very low right now.

    Anyway, Obama’s plan doesn’t change any of this, does it? The cost of healthcare goes *UP* with Obama’s plan, not down.


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