Okay, so I promised to post this letter from the honorable Gil Gutknecht a few days ago. Sue me. I just bought The Sims 2 University expansion pack and I've been constructing Simcordia University in honor of my alma mater.
Anyway, if you'll remember, I suggested that people write to their Congress-people and urge them to ban prescription drugs from advertising on television. I cited the costs of such ads and how that must drive up the prices; this past weekend, I ran across the Stephen King article that said drug companies were pushing dangerous drugs onto the market.
At any rate, I followed my own advice and wrote to my Representative and my Senators, plus "W" himself. So far, only Representative Gil Gutknecht has written back. I got this letter a month ago. Sorry I didn't share it sooner:
Dear Reverend Otte:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns over the rising cost of health care. I appreciate learning your views.
I understand that rising health care costs are an increasing concern for all Americans. That's why I am a strong proponent of tort reform, and believe it will have a remarkable impace on the price of health care. The cost of the U.S. tort system for 1994 was $152 billion, a number that has grown by 125% over the last ten years.
American consumers pay 30-300% more for their prescription drugs as our friends in Canada and Europe. That's why I authored and the U.S. House passed H.R. 2427, the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act. The bill allows American consumers access to FDA-approved prescription drugs from FDA-approved facilities in 25 industrialized countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to act on the bill during the 108th Congress. In the very near future, I will be introducing this legislation once again with the intention of allowing American access to affordable prescription drug [sic] via the free market.
I am also a strong supporter of health savings accounts (HSAs). HSAs give workers the opportunity to save tax-free for routine expenses, the security of insurance against major illness and the freedom of knowing you can take your account with you whenever you change jobs. These accounts can reduce health insurance premiums for families by thousands of dollars annually while giving them control over their own health care.
I believe that these measures will go a long way toward reducing the cost of health care. Thank you again for contacting me.
Okay, now, I know, my solution of banning prescription drug ads might not be politically possible. It might be construed as restraint of trade or even a violation of the First Amendment. But does anybody else get the feeling that Mr. Gutknecht didn't read my letter? Not a word about banning ads. Just "Thanks for the idea, now this is what the grown-ups are doing."
It's not that I expected him to jump up and down with joy at my idea or enthusiastically adopt it as his own. It would have been fine if he had written back and said, in essence, "This is the dumbest idea I've ever heard in my life. You obviously don't have a grasp of reality, dork-face. Don't waste my time or postage on this idea." But instead, I get this "wonderful" letter that makes me feel like I haven't been heard.
Oh well. I'll just have to keep this in mind if Mr. Gutknecht runs again, won't I? ;)