He’s my Senator now, and I will accept that. But it also means I get to write him letters. I will send this again to his Senate address once his official Senate contact page is up and running.
Subject: health reform
Dear Senator-Elect Brown,
I am writing to remind you that you were elected by the citizens of the state of Massachusetts, not by the national Republican Party or by the health insurance industry.
I did not vote for you in this election, in large part because I viewed a vote for you as a vote against my own life. Your campaign revolved around a pledge to vote against any Democratic reform of this country’s corrupt and failing health care system, without providing any specific alternative proposals. I have very strong feelings about the issue of health care because I have Type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes does not result from any lifestyle choices, risky behaviors, or unhealthy habits. The exact causes of diabetes are still unknown. When I was three years old, my parents had to take me to the hospital for a weeklong stay, at which point the doctors diagnosed me with this chronic disease. My first concrete memories are from that hospital. Ever since then, I have had to inject myself with insulin and perform blood tests. I now wear an insulin pump which is constantly connected to my body, and do about ten blood tests every day, just to stay alive. I pay hundreds of dollars every month to live with this condition – and that is with health insurance!
Fortunately, and thanks to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, there is a federal law that prohibits insurance companies from rejecting patients with Type 1 diabetes. However, that doesn’t stop corporations from jacking up their rates so much as to be prohibitively expensive for someone like myself. Under our current health care system, unless I encounter a peculiarly gracious insurer, it is most likely that I must rely on my employer to provide me with health care. If I ever lose my job in the future, and have to pay for health insurance on my own, it’s quite possible that I will not be able to afford insurance. And not being able to pay the high cost of my ongoing diabetes care would put my life in jeopardy. This is not a free-market issue of supply meeting demand; I have no choice. I need good health care in order to live, but health insurers constantly raise their costs and charge a premium for patients with chronic conditions like diabetes.
The most medically and financially effective health care for me would involve a reform of the current inferior American system, preferably with a public insurance option. In fact, many reputable impartial studies indicate that a public option would be the most cost-effective way to provide health care to all Americans, even those who obtain private insurance plans, and would reduce the amount our national government spends on health care. That makes a public option both morally right and financially responsible.
I strongly urge you to be an independent voice in the Senate, to carefully analyze your votes, and to consider what is moral, fiscally responsible, and in the best interests of your constituents – like myself. Do not just vote “no” to any and all proposals from members of the Democratic Party, simply because that is what the national Republican Party or insurance-industry lobbyists want you to do. Keep your state and the individuals in it in mind. Do not make shortsighted decisions based on whether or not taxes will go up – especially if health-care premiums would decrease by a larger amount, lowering total costs.
I fear that my pleas will be falling on deaf ears, since you campaigned in Massachusetts on a platform built around refusing Democrat-proposed health care reform. If it is too far at odds with your own principles that you consider a “no” vote and its implications for your constituents very carefully before you cast it, then I strongly suggest that you instead offer your own counterproposal for health care reform. That proposal should involve specific plans to expand health care coverage, lower total health care costs for the public, and lower total health care costs for the government. I have been unable to find any such specific counterproposals in your campaign materials.
I ask you to honor the memory of the man whose Senate seat you will hold, and consider the needs of your constituents. Don’t let petty party vindictiveness or big-industry lobbying dictate your votes. We are in this situation together – Bay Staters, diabetic patients, Senators, Democrats, Republicans, and the President of the United States. We all need a solution. I hope you will work constructively with Senate Democrats and will not disappoint us.
M.S., Ph.D. Candidate, Space Systems Design Studio
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
127 Upson Hall Cornell University