On Saturday, I [cref letter-to-representative-melissa-bean posted a letter] I had written to Rep. Bean regarding health care/insurance reform.

Just now, I received a reply (actually I am impressed that I received a reply this soon. In the past I have received replies weeks or even months after writing – but that’s all I’m impressed about). This reply is certainly a boilerplate form letter sent to everyone who writes to her and uses the ‘health care’ option in the drop down box.

Update: Several weeks ago, my husband wrote to Ms. Bean and said that he was disappointed in receiving a form letter in reply to his concerns about the Cap and Trade legislation and was therefore wary of communicating his views on health/insurance reform legislation.  He said, “I am confident at this point that I will receive another meaningless form letter expressing your appreciation of my views while you march lockstep with leader Pelosi down a very destructive path for our nation.”

Guess what? He got the exact same letter reproduced below. Word for word. The only difference was that his was addressed to Mr. while mine was addressed to Mrs. He received his today as well. I guess today was ‘Send the health care form letter day”.

Update 2: This letter, from the second paragraph to the end is exactly what is posted at the redirect of house.gov/bean/healthcare. The first paragraph is her standard opening paragraph when responding to emails and by snail mail to phone calls to either her local or Washington DC office.

The subject line is: Responding to your message

Thank you for contacting me about health insurance reform.  I am honored to represent you, and I appreciate your active participation in our legislative process.  Your involvement makes democracy work better by helping me more effectively represent you and Illinois’ Eighth District.

I appreciate the President’s recognition of the need for health insurance reform.  I support his priorities to ensure quality care, preserve what works for Americans who are satisfied with the coverage they have, expand and protect affordable coverage, and contain unsustainable cost increases for American families, businesses, and government.  The U.S. spends roughly twice as much, as a percentage of GDP, than other industrialized nations on health care.  At the same time, we leave over 45 million people uncovered by health insurance, and rank 37th in terms of quality outcomes.  

Even before I was elected to Congress, the rising cost of health care coverage was a top concern for families, their employers, and the under or uninsured of the Eighth District.  I came to Congress to address their concerns, and it is with their stories and uncertainties in mind that I’m approaching health care reform today. 

The top concerns for families in the Eighth District are the affordability and portability of healthcare coverage.  A preexisting medical condition of a family member can limit career options, or put a family in the category of “uninsurable.”  Families with insurance are seeing their premiums increasing while their benefits shrink.  Underinsurance is a predicament many Americans don’t realize they are in until it’s too late.  The U.S. has the unenviable distinction of being the only country to see increasing numbers of health-care-related bankruptcies from individuals with and without insurance.  What kind of system allows American families who’ve worked, saved, and paid their premiums to be wiped out by the uncovered costs incurred by a family health crisis?

The growing population of uninsured is unconscionable and unaffordable.  Everyone currently pays for those without health care coverage.  A rational system could make coverage affordable so that medical charges can reflect actual care instead of subsidizing uncovered charges elsewhere.

American employers, and particularly small businesses, have limited access to affordable coverage for themselves and their employees.  U.S. employers are also competitively disadvantaged in a global marketplace, because double-digit increases in healthcare expenses are not something foreign competitors have to include in their costs.  Their challenges to provide affordable health care benefits are exacerbated by the economic downturn, leaving many businesses struggling just to cover payroll and operations.

At a time when our nation’s debt exceeds $11 trillion, the status quo for our health care system is unacceptable.  The government’s health care costs represent the fastest-growing portion of our national debt.  At the current rate of increase, the government will be spending $2.2 trillion per year on health care by 2018.  Health insurance reform is as important to America’s fiscal health as it is to our physical health. 

Clearly, I don’t agree with those who suggest we should wait to reform our health care system.  Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are working on multiple versions of a health care reform bill.  I will be evaluating legislative options against key criteria that reflect the concerns of my constituents, including, but not limited to, the promotion of: 

  • Coordinated care for measurable quality outcomes. 
  • Stability of existing plans. 
  • Expanded options for affordable coverage for small businesses and families.
  • Coverage and/or portability for those with pre-existing conditions. 
  • Shared responsibility for the cost of reform, without unduly burdening families and small businesses.
  • Patient choice in terms of plan benefits and doctors.
  • Course of care determined by doctors, not bureaucrats.
  • Measurable reduction in cost increases.
  • Cost sharing for all covered participants. 
  • Personal responsibility in prevention and wellness efforts towards a healthier America.

Thank you again for contacting me about health care.  I will update you as this important issue progresses.  I am proud to serve Illinois’ Eighth District, and I am committed to working hard for you.  For further information on various proposals currently under consideration, please go to my website: www.house.gov/bean/healthcare.


Melissa L. Bean

Member of Congress