[The following letter was written to Rep. Josh Miller from one of his constituents, Ms. Carol Balderree. It is reprinted here with her permission. –Ed.]
When you were running for office, you attended a number of the Democratic Party meetings, where you portrayed yourself as a representative of ALL the people of District 66. Because of your own experience as a recipient of Medicaid, you portrayed yourself as someone who was sympathetic to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and as someone who would not be the lackey of the “Tea Party” wing of the Republican Party. What a surprise and disappointment you have been! Obviously, your own career and the support of the Tea Party elements in your own Republican Party are more important to you than is doing what’s best for the people of Arkansas.
I found your arguments in your interview with Chris Hayes to be weak and disingenuous:
1) You argued the “possibility” that fully implementing the private option would somehow take much needed funds from Medicaid or other government services (though the federal government is paying 100% of the cost for the next 3 years) and 90-95% of the cost after that. Taxpayers in this state are paying taxes to the federal government, whether Arkansas takes back its share or not (and as a poor state, Arkansas stands to get back much MORE than our share). Are we going to refuse to help our own citizens just because Republicans hate President Obama and want to see him fail?
2) Prior to passage of the ACA, this was the only developed country in the WORLD that did not provide basic health care to all its citizens. Different countries use different means to provide coverage–our system of employer based coverage was (and is) the most costly and least effective. The ACA is certainly NOT ideal, but it is a start. You and your fellow legislators should be doing everything in your power to build on and improve, rather than to tear down and destroy, this Act. Prior to passage of this law, the United States spent more (nearly twice as much more) per capita on health care than the people of any other nation, and yet we still had 50 million uninsured or underinsured people. Healthcare costs were rising astronomically, contributing to a broken and unsustainable healthcare system.
3) You implied that basic health care coverage should only go to the “deserving” in your comment regarding the lady with Parkinson’s. When you were injured in a drunk driving car accident, were you “deserving” of care? Should you have been refused care and allowed to perish because your injuries were of your own making? Of course not! If we are a nation that judges and refuses to care for those we deem not worthy, then we are not a Christian nation!
4) The one aspect of the ACA that Republicans seem to hate the most is the individual mandate–the requirement that uninsured individuals buy health insurance–yet you don’t seem to object to laws requiring individuals to buy liability insurance when they drive a car. Why is that? Why should taxpayers like myself pick up the tab for young, healthy individuals who drive drunk and are severely injured as a result? Does not that young, healthy individual have a responsibility–not only to himself, but to his fellow citizens–to prevent that from happening?
The ACA will work for us all if it is fully implemented. I worked for [redacted][foot]A government-based, health care-related agency[/foot] for over 30 years, and now work as a representative for people trying to obtain disability benefits. I have also volunteered for the last 8 years at the Christian Health Center (which is closing its doors on March 31). In my many years of experience in all these capacities, it has been my observation that many people who apply for disability do so because they have health conditions for which they cannot afford care, because they have no health insurance. With care, many of these individuals would not be on disability. Many of those you referred to with catastrophic conditions (such as stroke, heart attack, and the many manifestations of uncontrolled diabetes) who qualify for Medicaid would not even HAVE those catastrophic manifestations of their illnesses if they had been under medical care for the underlying conditions that led to the stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure.
Inevitably, these uninsured, very sick individuals end up on Social Security, SSI, Medicare, and/or Medicaid–all taxpayer funded programs. Is it not better to see that they get preventative care, even if the taxpayer is covering some or all of the cost of their basic insurance?
I beg you to reconsider your position on this issue and to do what is right, even if it is not popular.
Heber Springs, AR