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Florida’s Two Senators

I contacted both my senators prior to the procedural vote on health care.  Mr. LeMieux voted against the measure, and Mr. Nelson voted for it.  Below are there two replies to my contacts.  As Marilla said in Anne of Green Gables, to despair is to turn one’s back on God, so on moral grounds I must steadfastly refuse to despair.  But if these two replies tell us anything about the philosophical depth of the debate going on amongst America’s hundred senators, one might well conclude that God has turned his back on us and delivered us into the power of people who darken counsel by words without knowledge.  If either of these two gentlemen has any real principles at work, they’re keeping it secret.  Mr. Lemieux’s reply at least refrains from spreading absurdities such as the claim that federal health care will reduce the deficit.  You have to wonder if Mr. Nelson really believes that or if he just thinks his constituents are that stupid.  And the same thing applies to claims that the feds will extract money from the drug companies.  All that’s really going to happen is that anyone who buys drugs other than through the government will have to make up the shortfall — and say bye-bye keeping your health care plan if you like it!

From Mr. LeMieux

Dear Mr. Reed:

Thank you for sharing your views on healthcare reform. In the coming months, Congress will deal with a great number of issues critically important to the future of our nation. One of the largest issues is how to reform our system of health care.

I support affordability and access to quality healthcare. Right now, the costs are too high and too many people don’t have health insurance; the solution can’t be worse than the problem. Any attempts at reform should not destroy the high quality of care we have in the United States. Reform elements need to contain costs, preserve access to quality care, and avoid adding to an already overwhelming federal deficit.

I am studying all of the healthcare reform options before the Senate and you can be sure I will make the best decisions I can for the people of Florida and the rest of the nation.

It is an honor and privilege to serve the people of the great State of Florida in the United States Senate. I take great pride in being a native Floridian, and I look forward to the tremendous opportunity to better the lives of all Floridians. I assure you I will work hard to represent our state to the best of my ability in the U.S. Senate. If I can be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

George S. LeMieux
United States Senator

From Mr. Nelson

Dear Mr. Reed:

Thank you for contacting me about health care reform.

On October 13, I joined a bipartisan majority in the Finance Committee and voted to pass the America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009. Sen. Reid merged this bill with another bill passed by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee earlier this year, and unveiled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009. On November 21, I voted to bring this bill up for debate.

I am pleased with much of what is in Senator Reid’s bill. It would allow those who are happy with their insurance to keep what they’ve got, including veterans and seniors on Medicare. It creates State-based exchanges where those without coverage, or those who are unhappy with what they have, can get coverage at an affordable price. The bill also would hold insurers’ feet to the fire, requiring them to cover everyone and preventing them from dropping someone who gets sick. Additionally, it contains several measures aimed at reducing overall medical and prescription drug costs and eliminating waste and fraud in the system. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that Senator Reid’s bill will reduce the Federal budget deficit by $130 billion over ten years.

Among the improvements I added to the bill in the Finance Committee is a provision that would preserve benefits for an estimated 800,000 Medicare Advantage enrollees in Florida and another provision that would protect tax benefits for seniors who have high medical expenses. I am happy that these provisions are included in Senator Reid’s bill as well.

As for a public option, Senator Reid’s bill includes a public option that would allow States to opt out if they choose. I support this plan because it will provide consumers with more choices and make it harder for any one company, public or private, to dominate the insurance market.

I intend to improve this bill by introducing an amendment that will force pharmaceutical companies to give rebates to the Federal government for certain drugs purchased under the Medicare Part D program. These rebates will save the government billions, which will be used to fill the gap in Part D coverage known as the “donut hole.”

I am hopeful that the Senate will vote on this bill before the end of the year. Regardless of where anyone stands on the specifics, I think we all can agree that the system we have can be unfair and too costly, and needs reform. Again, I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. Please don’t hesitate to contact me in the future.

Sincerely,
Senator Bill Nelson

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