Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Senator Joe Lieberman Holds Deciding Health Care Vote

Hard to believe, but Joe Lieberman of our wonderful state holds the deciding vote on the health care bill before the U.S. Senate. Lieberman vowed a filibuster some time ago, and now has "flip flopped" the other way to join the 59 other Democratic senators in what is anything but a bi-partisan vote.

Whether you are for or against the current health care bill is irrelevant at this point. What is relevant is setting Joe straight on your personal sentiments on a government run health care system. Lieberman has become the target of just about every blog, national radio show and every health care corporation in the nation.

There will be no shortage of calls, mail, and concerns from all people in America. What Joe has not disclosed yet, is the price Congress payed for his vote. Certainly the entire first year of the Obama legacy rests in his hands. He can make Obama victorious or an abject failure.

The citizens of Connecticut have been very concerned over health care costs, just last week State Rep. Denise Merril said that Hartford's employee health care costs are driving taxes ever higher. She said it has become difficult for states to keep up and is hoping something will be done soon to grant relief to our state that is now deep in the red.

Some have objected to the present bill and question the constitutionality of it with concern over the extreme punitive measures aimed at those who cannot afford health care. These extreme measures include harsh prison sentences and heavy financial penalties against offenders. The bill could make going to the hospital a criminal offence if you lack insurance.

Religious sects, have also challenged any and all provisions that do not expressly prohibit abortion services as a public option. They believe it is not the taxpayers responsibility to fund abortions, especially when those abortions are objectionable to their personal beliefs.

The bill is certainly not perfect, but if we take heed to the words of David walker, the former Comptroller General of the U.S., "Congress must face some hard choices if the nation is to avert a medical bankrupcty." Walker points to the baby boomer generation who are now retiring en-masse with Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare benefits kicking in. Walker said the "United States has ZERO saved for a population that has been promised these entitlements, and is also on average living longer and maximizing our governments liability."

The health care bill has become a humanitarian, and constitutional crisis. Humanitarian because over 57 million Americans have no health insurance and each year over 100,000 Americans die from preventable diseases, misdiagnoses, or medical neglect. For many poor Americans the emergency room is their only health care option and this needs to change.

How it changes is certainly the challenge, because we are a nation who has emerged under a rule of law established by the U.S. Constitution. Certainly putting people in jail for not having health insurance is extreme and unconstitutional. The very notion of Congress taking part in our doctor patient relationship is also unconstitutional.

The present health care bill is riddled with mistakes, unlawful acts, new taxes, over-regulation and "heart stopping pork barrel" payouts to Senators for their votes. Senator Dodd once said that the public should never see two things, "making sausages and watching Congress make new laws." Now is your time to speak your mind, as all it will take is for Joe Lieberman to withdraw his vote and the entire bill fails in the U.S. Senate.

Lieberman's response to my letter is highlighted below


Mr. Rocco Frank
Milford, CT 06460-6664

Dear Mr. Frank:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opinion regarding health care reform efforts. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me, and I want you to know that I hear and understand your concerns.

Americans today are faced with great uncertainty about their health care coverage and insurance. These concerns focus on rising medical costs, access to coverage, and quality of care. With more than 45 million uninsured Americans and health care spending levels that exceed any in the world, our current health care system is unsustainable. Too often, we reward quantity over quality. The need for health care reform is clear. We must begin to provide Americans with the high-quality, affordable health care they need.

As you may know, over the last several weeks, I and several of my colleagues have worked together with Senate leaders to reach an agreement on a health care reform plan that addresses three critical goals: curbing the enormous increases in health care costs that burden almost every American family and detract from economic growth; regulating insurance companies to better protect patients and consumers; and making it easier for millions of Americans who can't afford health insurance to buy it.

In my view, the resulting legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), would make significant progress toward reaching all three of these goals, and does so in a fiscally responsible way. It is estimated that, under this bill, 31 million previously uninsured Americans will be able to purchase health insurance, resulting in 94 percent of Americans being covered. This represents a historic achievement that will move us closer to fulfilling the goal of universal coverage. In addition, this measure contains a number of strong provisions designed to ensure that insurance companies treat their customers fairly. Specifically, insurers would be prohibited from denying Americans coverage because of a pre-existing condition and from rescinding an individual's coverage if they become sick.

H.R. 3950 also takes a number of substantial steps to reduce health care costs in the long-term. I am particularly pleased that this final package includes elements of several amendments I cosponsored to contain costs, provide patients with more information so that they can make better decisions about their care, and create incentives for physicians to deliver high-quality, efficient care.

According to the Congressional Budget office (CBO), this legislation would reduce the federal deficit by $132 billion over the next ten years, and will continue to reduce costs in the following decade. This bill will also extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund for an additional nine years. Because of my serious concerns about our nation's long-term fiscal imbalances at this time, I opposed the inclusion of a non-essential government-run insurance program, including expanding Medicare to those 55 years of age and older. I felt any such new program was duplicative of other provisions in the underlying bill and could easily saddle the federal government with billions of dollars in additional debt and exacerbate Medicare's already perilous financial condition. Consequently, I supported Senate leaders' decision to remove such a plan from the final agreement.

On December 22, 2009, the Senate, with my support, approved a comprehensive amendment that contains key provisions of the final compromise package by a vote of 60-39. The Senate is expected to pass H.R. 3590 on December 24, after which it will have to reach a compromise agreement with the U.S. House of Representatives, which passed separate health care reform legislation (the Affordable Health Care for American Act; H.R. 3962) earlier this year. To keep track of further developments on this legislation, you can click on the "Track a Bill" button at

I am hopeful that leaders from both chambers will come together in the spirit of compromise to achieve meaningful health care reform that expands coverage, reduces costs, and improves the quality of care for everyone. Looking forward, I will not be able to support any compromise agreement that either includes a public option or does not contain provisions designed to lower health care costs and reduce the national debt over the long term. Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as this debate continues to move forward.

Thank you again for sharing your views and concerns with me. I hope you will continue to visit my website at for updated news about my work on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. Please contact me if you have any additional questions or comments about our work in Congress.


Joseph I. Lieberman



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