The following is a letter to Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, who joined a lawsuit filed by 13 states attorney generals against the recent health care reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
Dear Lieutenant Governor Kinder,
I’m disheartened and ashamed that you have taken steps to oppose in court one of the most important reforms in the history of our nation. The overwhelming majority of Missourians are at or below the median, or average income for the state and the nation. Health care is the one great burden all of us, as working citizens, have to undertake in our lifetimes. We have no choice. It is our health.
But for decades the American health care industry has taken advantage of working citizens because it is a necessity of life that we need and use their products. The move to merely regulate the industry, to make people who profit from our sickness provide at a reasonable profit, rather than at exploitative rates of return, is not too much for us to ask. And we have asked and asked and asked. These health care—or, rather, sickcare—providers have only exploited us further. We did not get to this point because of their graciousness, generosity, and kind caring. Their excesses have brought demand for this change to them.
I’m disappointed and hurt that, as an officer of my state, you have defended power and wealth over the concerns and needs of the people. I’m ashamed that you have dressed your actions in the cloak of standing up for my constitutional rights when there is nothing in the Constitution or outside of it in the Bill of Rights that provides such protection for power and wealth as you seem to propose. Your actions are political grandstanding disguised as leadership. You righteous indignation is merely a mask for seeking to engage and perpetuate a status quo that only hurts my fellow Missourians.
Since the American Industrial Revolution, the great struggle in this country has been to expand personal freedoms, individual liberty, and the right for citizens to make their own way in an increasingly complex economic and technological environment. This is at the center of the health care debate.
The differences between the parties are not about who can call the other nastier names and make them stick, but instead about how to accomplish preserving individual liberty and personal freedom. Your decision to portray your opponents as evildoers who would contravene and end these sacred American principles is not only wrong, it violates the very spirit of our representative democracy.
That Missourians are chained to employers for lack of having health care choices, that they have to face mountains of debt to profiteers, that they have to worry over their health and the health of their children because of lack of access are crimes against liberty and freedom. For you or anyone else to say that through this kind of legislation they lose freedom shows just how distant from their experienced you are. While I have health care insurance, I do not get to choose my doctor—I have an abbreviated list of “providers” to choose from, which makes the idea of choice a cruel joke. My access to treatment is determined by corporate bureaucrats who will do everything in their job descriptions and more to protect profit. I cannot choose to change jobs and keep my health care unless I can pay the exorbitant premiums to keep the insurance. I cannot choose my insurer, my employer does that. I cannot become self-employed due to the high cost of health insurance for those who choose to make their own way outside the corporate-dominated business markets.
Your action against the federal government is self-righteous, wrong-headed, and contradictory to the very laws of our state. The only major change that I see coming from Congress’ health care legislation is that we, as a people, are now asking health care insurers to run their companies as we already demand car insurers run theirs—singular risk pools with risks and rates distributed over the entire membership or customer base of those insurers. To stand against the Congressional legislation is to ignore the way we regulate other kinds of insurance—from life to homeowners’ insurance. To be consistent morally and principally, you would have to change state laws that mandate Missourians insure their homes to protect the investment of mortgage lenders, that we insure our cars against personal liability and medical costs of ourselves and others. By the logic employed in your actions, these statutory mandates on individuals from the State of Missouri to buy insurance violate the Tenth Amendment.
I implore you to do what’s right for our fellow Missourians. Stop this self-righteous and overtly political move. Rescind your lawsuit. It is time, if you disagree with Congress and the president, to stand up and do something for the people. Your lawsuit, you may, is your effort to defend the rights of the people. But it is, in truth, a slap in the face of their better interests, their welfare, and their future generations. End your alliance with the forces of reaction, and stand with the people against those who would oppress them.
1717 Jarboe St.
Kansas City, MO 64108