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Day 240: A Golden Opportunity Awaits, Mr. President! Health Care For All! Put Your Super Excited Eyes In and Read On (or Have Someone Read It To You).

Day 240: A Golden Opportunity Awaits, Mr. President! Health Care For All! Put Your Super Excited Eyes In and Read On (or Have Someone Read It To You).

Photograph by NYMag.com

Dear Mr. President,

I am so excited for you! An amazing opportunity has fallen into your lap. Finally, you have the chance to put your name in your favorite all-caps font, gilded and glorious, on nearly 20% of the GDP in our country. No, I’m not talking about putting your name on a wall. That’s thinking small and I’m thinking Huge! I’m aiming so much higher for you. I’m talking about your chance to put your name on our health care system. This week, Bernie Sanders unveiled his plan for Medicare for All. A single-payer health care plan, Berniecare would systematically lower the age of enrollment in Medicare over the next few years until every single citizen in our country has free health care. Obviously, Berniecare, as a system, is unpalatable. It reeks of mildewy sweaters and socialism. But Trumpcare? TRUMPcare? That is a glorious word, full of majestic intonation and caps-lock bravado. And you could do this! You could make this happen! Just like Obama took Romneycare and made it his very own, you could take Berniecare to the masses, paint it gold, and live in notorious infamy, going down in history not as the worst president of all time, but as the one who single-handedly saved millions of lives.

It’s really not so difficult of a sell. After all, if your name is on it, your loyalists will fall in line. And you could pay for this thing much easier than you can pay for a wall. You wouldn’t even have to bully Mexico. Yes, you’d have to raise taxes. But a tax increase on businesses would actually save them money, once they are out from under the weight of employee health care. Yes, you’d have to raise taxes on everyone…but everyone would actually save thousands of dollars every single year without the copays and premiums they currently kick out to private health insurance companies. You’d be saving every company and every citizen quite a lot of money. Think of the economy! Think of all the rounds of golf Americans could now afford at your golf courses!

A wise man once advocated for…and then backed away from…and then advocated for…and then said no to…and then praised universal health care. “We must have universal health care. Just imagine the improved quality of life for our society as a whole,” this wise man once wrote. You could follow his advice. You have the chance to do something great. The time is now, Mr. President. Listen to Donald Trump, sir, and replace Obamacare with something even greater. It’s time for TRUMPcare, Mr. President. It’s time to listen to yourself for once. Give in to your own peer pressure and do the right thing. If you do, I promise you that our nation will remember you, gold-plated and brazen, as the one who not only saved us money, but as the one who actually saved our lives.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 196 – Some Advice, Mr. President. Seems Like You Could Use Some.

Day 196 – Some Advice, Mr. President. Seems Like You Could Use Some.

Photograph by cornflakegirl

Dear Mr. President,

Since I am not privy to your tax returns for the last five years and since you have a penchant for revisionism, I really do not know whether you were a successful businessman. My father lent me $3,500 dollars as a down payment on a house; I did not lose the house but later sold it for almost double its value and bought a house that I sold for nineteen times the cost of the first house. I read that you lost the first two million your dad gave you.

From the knowledge I do have of your business dealings, you seem to be a loser; whereas, my business acumen has been untarnished: I have a perfect credit rating, I have paid all my creditors 100% of what I owe them, I have never had to fire an employee in whom I placed trust, I have never been sued or sued anyone over a business contract, and strangers keep calling offering credit cards and free trips to purvey their properties in which they would like me to invest. Further, no one has ever connected me to Russian operatives nor have I ever had to lie about such connections.

I mention this as a prequel to discussing your attempts to pass a health care initiative to replace The Affordable Care Act.  You have failed in this, too, sir. Not coincidentally you have also failed in your attempt to pass a budget. (Possibly your naming your budget-restructuring bill as the “health care” bill confused the Republicans.) I’d like to offer some sound business suggestions to you, sir, coming as they do from me, one who has an untarnished record in the financial world.

You told people your health care solution would be “bigger and better to cover more people at lower cost.”  “Big” is a word that you seem to have some problems with –“bigly” not actually having been recognized as a word until…when you kept repeating it. The point here is that none of your recent suggestions for health care have covered more people at a lower cost, so bigger does not adhere to its meaning of increased as you use it in this phrase. I suggest dumping the whole repeal/replace/ Obama- care- light/ fiasco and simply going back to an old idea of yours: single payer health care.

If you were to remove the cap from social security, you could solve most of your budget problems, keep the citizenry eating on a regular basis, and ensure that a sufficient number of consumers survive (some of whom might become buyers for Ivanka’s trinkets and tawdry trash).

Tell people the truth. Lincoln said it best, “You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” The odds on your pulling off another mass deceit are not in your favor.  (I know people refer to you as a septuagenarian, but that is a term referring to your age–as in old coot– and not to the size of your hands.)

Your branding of the election really was far superior to Hillary’s  I’m not with Him.” However, that branding is coming back to haunt you now since “Make America Great Again” implies that you, sir, are on America’s side, not, as it appears to many (including the FBI), Russia’s.  You need to change this perception pronto.

Try releasing your tax returns for the last five years. That would be a marketing coup.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 182 – If You Don’t Want to “Own” Health Care, Share Nicely, Mr. President.

Day 182 – If You Don’t Want to “Own” Health Care, Share Nicely, Mr. President.

Photograph by Daniel Lobo

Dear Mr. President,

It must be frustrating, how long this business messing with Obamacare is taking. You thought it was going to be easy. It was going to be taken care of the first week, no, the first day. Here we are six months later and the legislative gears are still seizing up. Ironically, the latest effort was derailed by a health problem. I hope Senator McCain makes a full recovery. Thankfully, he has good health insurance, and Congress is making sure that he’ll keep that health insurance, unlike the rest of us.

Having arrived at this juncture, however, perhaps this is a good opportunity to rethink things. You called the House healthcare bill “mean,” and, let’s be honest, the Senate bill really wasn’t any better. Now you’re back to calling for a straight up repeal, but we can’t just turn the clock back seven years and arrive at a clean slate. The old status quo wasn’t that good either. No, a repeal without replacement would be the meanest move of all.

We’re not going to own it,” you said, but let’s face it, this sort of thing clings. You’re the face of the party who can’t get its act together and is ready to sit back and watch the country burn. There’s only one way that gives you a chance of shaking this, and that’s actually working with Democrats. Instead of making empty threats to work with Democrats in the hopes of bullying conservative senators into line, echo Senator Moran’s advice and start legislating fresh with an open process that invites Democrats in.

Call up all those senators you know and tell them to actually work with the Democrats. You’ll have a shot at actually getting something done and appearing presidential, and you get to make the hardline Republicans who have been giving you trouble squirm. The rest of us will call our senators up as well and tell them we want them to engage in an open, bipartisan process. Maybe if it comes from you they’ll be more likely to listen than when it’s coming from their constituents, and in any event, the more voices the better, right?

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

Day 175 – Real People Would Be Hurt By Trumpcare, Mr. President. Stop Looking Away.

Day 175 – Real People Would Be Hurt By Trumpcare, Mr. President. Stop Looking Away.

Photograph by Alexandria Stevenson

Dear Mr. President,

The latest version of Trumpcare dropped today and, as far as I’ve been able to tell from the press reports about it, it seems as bad – if not worse – than the other iterations. Like those earlier versions, it would throw tens of millions off their health insurance, create a huge tax windfall for the super-rich, and jeopardize the lives of American citizens.

None of this is new, I know.

But it provokes the question I have for you today:

Why?

How much more do you need? How much richer can you get and have it make a lick of difference? Does it, at some point, become an evil game – seeing not just how much you can purchase, own, and encrust in gold, like some dragon on its hoard, but how much misery you can inflict upon others who have far, far less?

I suppose it is a question of morality. You and the other millionaires and billionaires in the country, the people with your tiny hands firmly on the levers of power, must somehow believe that not being rich is a sign of some moral failing. You must honestly believe that you work harder than the rest of us. That you somehow deserve to have ever-more, and at the expense of those who suffer through ever-less.

It is this thought – that the rich, for whom you are the ultimate standard-bearer, feel somehow entitled not merely to their own huge share of the pie but to big chunks of the crumbs as well – that has me so despondent these days. I grew up believing that America, for all its flaws, was a place that saw itself as a moral example. I’m speaking of the America of FDR, for example, that not only rescued the world from Nazis but found the heart to raise impoverished people to a living wage, to provide jobs to give our people a sense of purpose, to invest in the infrastructure of our country for a greater good.

You yourself have called this new health care (read: tax cut) legislation “mean.” And in that, I have some small sense (though I am admitting I could be entirely wrong here) that you have some empathetic human qualities lurking someplace deep inside you. Underneath that great pile of loot, perhaps. Your spokesperson has also balked at calling the proposed legislation “Trumpcare,” presumably because you envision a time in a (hopeful) future when this bill, too, has failed. It encourages me that you are running away from it even before it has come to a vote.

My proposed action for you today is this: Look inside yourself. Examine what you call your soul. Scrape off the gold leaf, break away the diamonds there, and see if you can find the largeness of spirit within that used to describe America’s leadership. See if you can tap the part of you that won’t slap your name on this inequity – as you’ve done with so much else in this world – the part of you that recognizes the cruelty that lies at its root.

Our lives in this nation are not lived on a Monopoly board. America is not a zero-sum game where only the richest of the rich “win” and the rest are “losers.” Reach out. Reach down. Help your fellows up.  Give up a small portion of what you have, a small portion of what you might otherwise steal with impunity, and understand the truth in the phrase: There, but for the grace of God, go I.

It’s a different view when you’re looking from the bottom up. You could ask your son Don Jr. about this – I have a feeling that very soon, he’s about to appreciate the concept. And I don’t think he’ll be alone . . . .

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

Day 162 – Free Market Economy in the Supermarket? Yes. In the ER? Big Fat Nope, Mr. President.

Day 162 – Free Market Economy in the Supermarket? Yes. In the ER? Big Fat Nope, Mr. President.

Photograph by Patrick Lentz

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to discuss your plans for making a purchasing decision during your stroke.  If health care is a commodity. The Republicans believe patients are customers and people should have choices in a competitive capitalistic system.  Well, I’m interested in how you are going to make an informed consumer choice during your brain attack.

In a stroke, there is a 3-4 hour window when hospitals might reverse the negative outcome; one of the miracles of modern medical research, which of course is being defunded.  Under the Republican model you are in control. You are the customer. You believe in competition and consumer choice.  So, how does that work?

As you start to lose your vision, will you drag the side that no longer functions to the computer and set up an Excel spreadsheet to compare the costs of local ambulance services?  Will you ask your spouse, before you lose the ability to talk, to research the various neurological services in your area, the customer reviews of various physicians, the quality ratings of your hospital options, and to do a cost-benefit analysis of the various drugs available?

Having made your educated consumer decision, will you then contact your health insurance company to determine if your choices of ambulance service, hospital, and physician are “in network” or “out of network?”  Will you ask for their permission for treatment and a list of the pharmacy formulary determining which stroke drugs are covered by your insurance? Will you sit at home waiting for the 18 year-old who answers the insurance line to call you back to tell you their standard line that “you are not covered?” That’s what insurance companies like to do. Immediate denials often discourage patients from care. Helps the company make money for their investors.  They are, after all, corporations and have to first look after shareholder values – that’s the beauty of capitalism.

Let’s say you’re still alive by the time you have made your consumer choices. When you get to the hospital, there will be so much more to purchase.  Do you want a CT scan or the more expensive MRI?  Do you want the more expensive brand name drug with a 90% efficacy rating (that means effectiveness) to break up a blood clot, or the reverse engineered generic brand with a 75% success rate that your insurance will cover?  Will you have a credit card with you and at each consumer decision point?  They can now swipe purchases on mobile devices.

Well, the truth is, you’d be dead.  I suppose that’s the point.  You will have paid enormous premiums to the insurance company for coverage over your lifetime.  Then when the stroke happens, you are free to make all of your health care decisions.  If you die, the insurance company makes money – they win!  It’s a terrific business model.

Every developed nation in the world has figured out that health care is not a commodity.  It’s not a choice made in the super market aisle between Coke and 7 Up. It’s not a choice between a Ford or a Chevy. It’s not a choice between Trump Tower and the Ritz.  People needing health care are patients – not customers.   The providers of health care should be professional, highly skilled medical staff – not insurance clerks.  Americans deserve to participate in the largest, most diverse patient pool that can be imagined, all of the people of the United States with universal coverage.

We have some smart people in the country.  While the health care system is complex, fixing it is not beyond the reach of our best minds.  After all, we sent people to the moon and back with just the computing power equivalent to the modern toaster.

Of course, it can’t be done if the profit interests of the insurance companies and drug providers trump the welfare of the citizens.  If those representing the welfare of citizens are “bought and paid for” by the industry looking to profit bigly, real reform will never happen.

Mr. President, we can do better than this.  Do something extraordinary that will really shake up the system – universal health care.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 161 – Just Call It What It Is, Mr. President: WealthCare.

Day 161 – Just Call It What It Is, Mr. President: WealthCare.

Meme by Mike Licht

Dear Mr. President,

With this current health care bill proposal you are giving all wealthy people a very bad name. Although I work as a teacher, I am no stranger to wealthy people and I know not all of them just want more tax breaks. Growing up in New York City, I was the oldest daughter of a very hard-working single, immigrant woman who spent 30 years cleaning the houses of one very wealthy family. This family, they adored my mother. In fact, they loved my mom so much they paid for my sister and me to attend private schools in Manhattan and later helped us go to college and postgraduate school. Their enormous sense of humanity and responsibility did not end with my family; they helped countless others over the many years we knew them. Thank you letters were always pouring in from people from all walks of life.

Please know that I have not let this kindness go wasted; to this day, I make sure I give back to others in order to demonstrate my gratitude for all the love and care my family received. Every day I walk into my classroom, I work alongside young students who, like myself growing up, are too shy to speak up, who need direction, comfort, and inspiration. With the same level of love and dedication I received as a young child, I, in turn, bring inspiration and care to countless children each year.

This brings me to you, Mr. President. As someone who cares about how he’s perceived by the public, I wonder how you justify your health care bill. Bernie Sanders characterized your bill as  “barbaric and immoral piece of legislation,” and for good reasons. In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler stated that after reviewing the scientific literature…on the relationship between health insurance and mortality. There is really now a scientific consensus that being uninsured raises the death rates between 3 and 29 percent. And the math on that is that if you take health insurance away from 22 million people, about 29,000 of them will die every year, annually, as a result.” Combine that with giving the 400 wealthiest households $33 billion in tax cuts and we have a moral failure of massive proportions. In my opinion, this bill has got the words “blood money” written all over it. As someone who grew up wealthy his entire life, is the financial bottom line the only focus in all you do? Does quality of life for the American people matter to you? Which takes precedence?

I can understand how having been wealthy since birth would surely desensitize anyone to the common struggles and troubles of the everyday man. But like the family I grew up with who gave my own family so much, the returns of valuing all life is one that will multiply with time. The work I do with children each day is a direct byproduct of the kindness and compassion extended to me by kind and caring people. Would you call what you do a labor of love, Mr. President? Will your bills and actions spur others to give back with love? My letter is not a call for charity; this is a firm call for giving us, the American People, what we deserve. In the words of Edward Kennedy, “Health care is a basic right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few.”

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

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