Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dear Mr Obama

Dear President,

I've been reading about the healthcare reform debate and your work to get a bill passed and enacted on healthcare reform. That's a laudable and needed goal with healthcare and health insurance. I hope, however, before you gloss over the details and accept what Congress gives you as a bill, you read the details. It's fine to argue for something, but be careful when it ends up hurting those you most need, like federal employees.

I wrote a response to two proposals by members of the Senate Finance Committee to gut the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) program, in favor of moving it into the commercial market or adding low income individuals and families into the program. I hope you push to remove these amendments.

There are about 8 million active and retired employees in the FEHB and it has been an excellent program for over several decades. It's a good model for other programs, but it is not a program to expand beyond its present membership eligibility, meaning federal employees and congressional officials and staff. Please ensure this happens, because the last thing you want to do is piss off all ~4 million employee who work for you by increasing their health insurance premiums by 100% or more with less coverage and the possibilty of losing it at the whim of health insurance companies.

This is very important to those employees and it's very important to me. I worked 32 years for the federal government. I earned that insurance, paid for it, and I deserve to keep it without any changes for political purposes or as political fodder over the public option you want. I don't want to see a promise denied by politicians for their personal interests.

And it seems to me the last thing you want to do is face the 2012 election knowing you ruined the health insurance program of all current and retired federal employees. That's a huge voting block, and you hit them in our proverbial wallet, and we won't be happy at all. You have the responsibility to the employees to protect their benefits, and not sacrifice them for political gain with others.

So, I urge you to "ask" Senators Grassley and Wyden or the Chairperson of the Senate Finance committee to remove those proposed amendments from any healthcare reform bill you want to sign. Or as the saying goes, face the music later. If employees can't get health insurance under the changes, because it's unadfordable, pre-existing conditions, dangerous work enviroments, etc. are you willing to explain why and what you'll do to help?

Or will you just sing and dance a tune to hide the fact you didn't help when you had the chance?

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