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Letters to Schumer: Following Your Money on Healthcare

Letters to Schumer #7

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Letters to Schumer is a series in which we’re publishing a collection of Natalie Holme Elsberg’s letters sent to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Find the previous letter here.


I started writing letters to Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, (and arguably most senior Democrat), shortly after I discovered Resistbot. I sit in a darkened room with my little ones as they fall asleep after story time. As I scroll through the news of the day, every story brings a new outrage.

Resistbot turns words you send it into a letter and faxes it off to Washington D.C. Much more cathartic than haranguing my neighbors, children, family, dinner companions, and fellow dog-walkers and strangers with my daily outrage! And *maybe* more effective. Sometimes I can’t resist SHOUTING at Senator Schumer IN ALL CAPS, because …. WTF CHUCK?! I think of it as putting Senator Chuckie on notice. Hey, at least he won’t be able to say: “Nobody told me!”

On the theory that our elected Democratic Party representatives may not actually have a clue, I have been employing my texting thumbs to complain, cajole, and educate them on their mistakes and also on what progressive policy looks like. (Resistbot will send your letter to all of your Senators and Congresspeople if you ask it to.) On their federal responsibilities, and their duty to coordinate and empower state and local government. The right wing and Tea Party activists together with ALEC successfully took over legislation and policy at the state and local level while the Democratic Party was asleep at the wheel. A group of us got together and formed LEAP, which is putting together progressive model legislation for the state and local level — watch this space.

So consider these templates and examples — you can do it too. Feel free to copy, paste, send, call, fax or scribble a postcard. Holding our reps accountable is an important part of the renaissance in democratic engagement we see going on in town halls and protests across the nation. Let’s push them in a progressive direction and promote the progressive narrative. It takes 5-10 minutes a day…and it’s better therapy than yelling at the Rachel Maddow Show.


Natalie Holme Elsberg

natalie.holme.elsberg@gmail.com

 

June 6, 2017

Senator Charles E. Schumer

322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20510

(201) 224-6542

 

 

Dear Senator Schumer,

 

I wrote to you recently, asking you to support a single-payer healthcare proposal, and have not received a response (to that letter, or any of the approximately 30 I have sent to you, my representative in the Senate, on a variety of subjects.)

I’m sure you saw the New York Times article published last week: “The Single-Payer Party? Democrats Shift Left on Health Care” which mentions the Conyers bill:  “In the House, 112 of the 193 Democrats have co-sponsored a single-payer bill proposed by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and called the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.” Until recently, the bill had attracted a fraction of that support.”

It is absolutely baffling to me, and thousands of your constituents, that you refuse to endorse and actively pursue single payer healthcare for all.  What are you waiting for? Most House Democrats have now endorsed a single-payer proposal.  “Presented with three separate scenarios for the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 58% of U.S. adults favor the idea of replacing the law with a federally funded healthcare system that provides insurance for all Americans.” That you are not even following (let alone leading) on this matter is obvious to every one of your constituents not currently living under a rock.  

Could it be that the elephant in the room (and not mentioned in the New York Times article) is the deeply invested and profitable stakeholders of the private health insurance and pharmaceutical companies? Could it be that the following significant donations to your 2016 campaign have clouded your judgement and influenced your foot-dragging on the subject?

According to OpenSecrets.org, you received the following from:

Hospitals/Nursing Homes: $609,478

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products: $598,611

Health Services/HMOs: $528,118

Health Professionals: $739,338

Grand Total: $2,475,545

Recently you publicly exhorted congressional investigators to “look for the money”. Surely as our union is riveted by the Russia probe, allegations of private profiteering and conflicts of interest plus former Director George Comey’s forthcoming testimony, the cries of “Follow The Money” should apply as forcefully to our Democratic elected representatives – including you – as to those in the GOP? Democrats have zero credibility claiming, for example, that Russia paid off Mike Flynn with $45,000 in speaking fees, but Goldman Sachs didn’t seek to influence Hillary Clinton with $675,000 in speaking fees. While all those massive contributions to your campaign may be technically legal, voters don’t believe for a second, that your policy is not influenced by those well-heeled donors.

For sure history will not look kindly on the privileged Senator from Brooklyn raking in millions of dollars from for-profit health providers, when up to more than one million New Yorkers lack health insurance. In 2016, 6.2% of New Yorkers had no health insurance (approximately 1.2 million) 

Fie and for shame on your abject lack of leadership on behalf of regular New Yorkers.  Australis, Austria, Belgium Canad, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, U.K. all provide universal health coverage.  We could achieve it through Medicare for all.  It’s not impossible.  It requires the political will and courage of elected leaders like you.

Sincerely yours,

 

Natalie Holme Elsberg

Former student anti-apartheid activist, extremely vetted immigrant, mom of three and devoted spouse, outraged citizen and Bernie bro, believer in shared prosperity and equal justice for all.

Follow Natalie on Twitter @NatalieElsberg. She also works with LEAP , which you can follow on Twitter @advprogress.

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Letters to Schumer: Following Your Money on Healthcare