The writer was a trustee of the American federation of Television and Radio Artists Health and Retirement Funds for over 17 years before moving to Pinehurst.
As a longtime former trustee of a health and retirement fund with a $2 billion value (minuscule compared with the nation, I know), I am more than a little aware of the difficulties in planning benefits and balancing money in/money out.
Ours was a multi-employer plan, with half the board management and half labor, but working together as fiduciaries. More often than not, we found we could come to a compromise that did either no harm or as little damage to the health benefit structure as we could manage. Neither side had sway, so we had to work together and were legally bound to work for the benefit of the participant.
How I wish that the U.S. Senate was held to such a standard.
Now, I fear that the “backroom deal” is the order of the day, and that the participants (the U.S. citizens) no longer have any “feet under the table” representing them because it has become a zero-sum game of winning against the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
How can it be that hearings are nonexistent? How can female senators have almost no representation, when we are a majority of the population? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, females constitute 51 percent, and yet we are not dominant in our health.
The debate, if one can call a one-sided discussion debate, is dangerous because it excludes the human and medical considerations in favor of a political victory.
The other problem is that no plan has been laid out before the members of the Senate, and therefore none has been laid out by them to us, their constituents. As the participants in the plan, we should have time to read, reflect and advise them on what we see as good or impractical parts of the bill that will uniquely impact our lives and our health.
This is no infrastructure bill that will change a road or a bridge. This is, as the senators well know, life, health and death.
I urge the members of the committee to open the discussion to all senators, and that the senators then open it to their constituents by presenting the plan at home, clearly and in depth to hear our concerns about the very practical problems that may arise.
Women in particular should not be used as a form of righteous indignation but should be treated, quite literally, as men are treated and heard.
I urge the members of the Senate:
Do not allow a vote on this bill for a win, but bring it before your constituents. You should listen and learn. Together we can take the best of the ACA and create a health care plan that we all can be proud of. To do less is a breaking with your moral fiduciary obligation and will result in unnecessary pain all around.
This bill is going to change everyone’s world in ways that no one, outside of a handful, know what is in it or what it will mean to the sick, the dying or those with pre-existing conditions — not even those who are well and young now but later fall ill or get pregnant or are hit by a car.
It is the height of hubris to treat this bill in such a secret and biased way. The fallout will be tremendous.