Maybe you too recently received an invitation from Congressman Doug LaMalfa to provide feedback on the Affordable Care Act. Like many other invitations for feedback from politicians (especially those in the Tea Party), the message already contained his point of view, and the expectation was clear he wanted the recipient to provide supporting evidence to reinforce his position.
So I decided to let LaMalfa know exactly how the ACA has affected our family’s ability to get affordable and comprehensive medical insurance. After the ACA was passed, California and other states elected to enact one of its early provisions that provided coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The program, known as PCIP, was the only way my wife was able to get medical insurance, let alone anything that was affordable. In fact, to qualify for PCIP, one had to be recently declined coverage from an insurer, which of course was easy to do.
For the two years my wife has been covered, it has cost us about $500 per month with an annual out-of-pocket limit of $3,000. This compares with nearly $900 per month and a $10,000 annual deductible from Kaiser, which was the previous coverage she had four years ago. With the new healthcare exchanges under Covered California, the PCIP program is ending as people can sign up for new healthcare plans. My wife’s new plan will now cost us about $115 per month with a $2,400 annual OOP limit.
In my reply to his survey, I pointed out all of the positive aspects of the ACA and particularly how important it is to people like us. I also noted the fact that Republicans have offered no alternative and resisted this law that finally helps those of us needing affordable health care coverage.
The response I received in the official letter from LaMalfa’s office, with his signature at the bottom, simply illustrates how pointless it is to send feedback to this man. Here are the salient excerpts of that letter, in which you will see that he not only didn’t respond to the points I made but completely ignored and twisted them around to support his negative view:
“Thank you for sharing your health care story with me. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know how Obamacare has affected you, and I am sorry to learn of the hardships you are faced with under this intrusive law. Stories such as yours strengthen my firm belief that Obamacare is the wrong solution for our nation’s health care.”
“Please know that I am fighting in Congress to repeal and replace the President’s unaffordable and unpopular health care law and have personally supported multiple pieces of legislation to do so.”
“Thank you again for taking my survey. I value all feedback from residents of the California’s First Congressional District. Your answers will help keep me informed on how this health care law is impacting the North State.”
LaMalfa perceives our experience with the ACA as a hardship? The hardship was trying to get any insurance in the past. It’s clear that our Congressman is not even capable of listening to or understanding what his constituents are saying — that is, of course, unless they align with his one-track way of thinking. Instead, he sends back a letter that’s a total non-sequitur to what I had written and quite possibly is counting it as a data point in whatever negative metric he plans to show from his constituency’s response.
What’s even more pathetic is that LaMalfa and his family have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies. It’s quite hypocritical for someone to vote against food stamps and medical insurance subsidies, while at the same time getting all they can in terms of government assistance. A corollary exists among supporters of the Tea Party. Most of them I know personally are getting Social Security, Medicare and even federal or government pensions. Yet they oppose the ACA and anything else President Obama is doing — even though their own future welfare would be compromised when the same people they support eliminate or reduce those programs.
Are people like LaMalfa so blinded by their own way of looking at the world that they don’t comprehend or realize the logical impact of their actions to themselves and others? Are they incapable of listening to other points of view and having a well-reasoned discussion? Are they so dogmatic that no amount of empirical evidence could influence them to change their minds? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Larry Hoffman lives in Grass Valley.