Letter: Special interests in health care
Having spent almost 30 years in the insurance business, I have been following the discussions on health reform with interest. One thing is clear, there is good information and a lot of bad information. One reliable source is the Kaiser Family Foundation which recently completed its annual survey of employer health coverage and costs. They found that the average nationwide cost of a family policy in 2009 is $13,375. The study projects that in 10 years it will be $30,803! These numbers indicate why more employers are dropping coverage entirely or offering scaled-down plans as well as why wage increases for workers have been stagnant since 2000. It also represents a critical drag on the economy which no amount of stimulus will correct.
Serious health reform is needed. Studies show that America has the best educated doctors and nurses and the most advanced facilities in the world. We should be No. 1 in health care but we are not. We rank No. 1 only in spending on health care. Millions of dollars are pouring into Congressional pockets from special interests. Our own Rep. Collin Peterson is a member of the "Blue Dog" coalition. According to the Center for Public Integrity, money is "rolling in" to the Blue Dogs from the energy, financial services and health care lobbies. In fact, the center reports that the health care industry doubled its contributions to the Blue Dogs from 2006 to 2008 and will shatter all records by the time the 2010 elections roll around. Cynics define the Blue Dogs as Congressmen from safe, "blue" Democratic districts who will "roll over" for special interests. That may be unfair in Congressman Peterson's case, however employers and families who are paying the price for health care need to remind our representatives that their primary responsibility must be the public interest, not the special interests who stand to gain from their efforts.