Calls to Eshoo mostly in favor of health overhaul

Congresswoman says she's savoring a moment of 'making history'

As President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders continued twisting arms for votes, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said calls to her office have been two-to-one in favor of passing the health care reform package.

"We're right on the verge of, I think, making history," Eshoo said today in a conference call with local reporters, calling health care reform "the unfinished business of the American people."

Although some 72 percent of residents of her district already have health insurance, Eshoo said the health package ultimately will save money and generate positive impacts throughout society, "from families to small business to global business to government budgets to individual budgets."

The bill will provide millions in new funding for 21 community health centers in the district, and reduce by $25 million the cost of uncompensated care by local hospitals and health providers, she said.

"For the most part, people (from the district) are pleased with what they have, and they can keep that," she said.

"I have some wealthy people in my district, but they also see what's wrong with the system.

"This is about the middle class, making this affordable, something that they'll always have and that no one can take away from them, and where insurance companies will be made to compete.

"By its very enactment, there will be a promise kept to insure 95 percent of Americans, 32 million of whom are uninsured today. That takes my breath away," she said.

Eshoo said her offices in Palo Alto and Washington have received a combined 1,500 contacts in the past week on the health care legislation, mostly positive.

Citing a Congressional Budget Office analysis issued earlier this week, Eshoo said the package will reduce projected federal deficits by more than $130 billion over the next 10 year and $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years.

By cutting back what she said are excessive costs in the Medicare Advantage program, the bill will be able to spread those savings over ordinary Medicare. Higher taxes for some are justified, she said.

"Is there a need for more revenue in the system? Yes. Is the entire bill being funded with new taxes? No, because there are savings in it and changes being made," she said, citing provisions barring insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

The bill also will allow young adults to stay covered under their parents' policies until age 26.

Eshoo said the bill does not contain everything she wanted, including the so-called "public option" to compete with private plans.

But once a bill is passed, further changes will be attempted, she said.

Noting that past presidents starting with Theodore Roosevelt have sought health-care overhauls, Eshoo said she is savoring the moment.

"I know we're making history," she said.

"We love our history once it's been made. We talk about it, read about it, celebrate it, teach our children about it, do documentaries about it.

"But we don't often appreciate it when we're making history. It's never very easy to do and that's why it's taken the country so long to get there," she said.

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Like this comment
Posted by cf
a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Since 70-75% of Ms.Eschoo's district are registered Democrats, it is not surprising that the phone calls are running 2 to 1 in favor--statistically they should be running 3 out of 4. Most of us who disagree with the congressional attempt to pass this historic debacle haven't wasted our time contacting our congresswoman, as we know how she is going to vote. If people think this plan is going to make health care affordable to the middle class, they are sadly misinformed. Instead, this bill will enslave our children and grandchildren with the debts that will be incurred. I am for health reform, just not this massive takeover by the government of one-sixth of our economy.

Like this comment
Posted by jrstonum
a resident of Woodside High School
on Mar 20, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Eshoo is just another dem hack whose time has come to get out of Washington and get a real job. If anyone can explain to me how the hell government is going to find savings in healthcare when everything else they touch is bloated, failing or corrupted, I would sure like to hear the arguement. When total taxes to the middle class reach 50% of income, I think we will hear some tax revolt grumblings.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm

If you are really open to discussing how the federal government can find savings in healthcare, start with the facts that the government operates Medicare on only 3% overhead, whereas for-profit insurers operate with 26% overhead (source: Journal of American Medicine 2007).
Seems to me there's a lot of savings to be rung out of the private health care system. And that 26% overhead statistic is from several years ago - it doesn't include the double-digit premium increases many insurance companies have saddled their customers with in the past few years.
The government has shown for decades that it can run lean & effective health care systems in Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans, and military systems. Why do you have a problem acknowledging your government is actually competent? Why do you hate your government?

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

jr -
You bring up government bloat and today, by coincidence, Paul Krugman reprises a five-year old editorial he wrote on the need for Health Care Reform in which he provides another perspective on where the bloat and inefficiency is:

"To get effective reform, however, we'll need to shed some preconceptions - in particular, the ideologically driven belief that government is always the problem and market competition is always the solution.
The fact is that in health care, the private sector is often bloated and bureaucratic, while some government agencies - notably the Veterans Administration system - are lean and efficient. In health care, competition and personal choice can and do lead to higher costs and lower quality. The United States has the most privatized, competitive health system in the advanced world; it also has by far the highest costs, and close to the worst results." - Paul Krugman, April 11, 2005

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