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A Letter To Our Leaders During HillaryCare

This is the original cover letter for my health care proposal addressed to former senators the late Warren Rudman and the late Paul Tsongas at the Concord Coalition. It was also sent at various times during the debate over the Clinton health care plan to George Mitchell (the Senate majority leader), Senator Bob Dole (the Senate minority leader), Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein (my senators at the time), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (my representative at the time), and President Clinton. Other than form letters from Senator Feinstein and Congresswoman Eshoo, I got no replies.

14 August 1994

Dear Senators Rudman and Tsongas,

I am writing to you as perhaps the last hope for sanity in the debate over health-care reform; despite my California address I am a native Granite Stater and my respect for both of you predates your current activities on behalf of the Concord Coalition. I, as most people, have become concerned about the direction in which the debate seems to be moving. Because of your commitment to weaning the American public, politicians, and government bureaucrats from the trap of entitlement programs I thought you might have a special interest in what becomes of this potentially gargantuan new entitlement program into which we seem to be plunging. It is my hope that your influence and straight talk may yet prevail over the politics dominating the discussion to date.

As an engineer, it is my job and my calling to analyze seemingly intractable problems, to balance competing goals and constraints, to make trade-offs and compromises in pursuit of the best, if not the ideal, solution. Although the complexities of economic and social policy generally exceed even the most challenging engineering problem, the techniques and thought processes of engineering analysis can provide insight for synthesizing acceptable compromises on such issues.

I must confess up front that I remain unconvinced, on philosophical grounds, that it is the right and proper role of government to appropriate wealth from one portion of the population to support the individual needs or desires of some other portion of the population. On this point, however, I seem to find myself in the minority, and certainly recent history provides ample precedent for such action. I have, therefore, conceded the point and accepted that, in the matter of health-care, some form of government subsidy will inevitably prevail.

It is still to be hoped, however, that the form of government involvement may be steered into productive rather than counter-productive channels. To that end I have attached, in outline form, such a synthesis of ideas from many of the health care reform plans currently being debated which I believe offers a path to achieving the goals of both the President and the myriad factions within the Congress. Although I have neither the time nor the resources to provide detailed cost estimates to justify my contention, I believe that this plan is at least as viable as any other I have seen, and it offers the advantage of true cost-saving mechanisms without government controls.

This outline is an updated version of one I sent to Senators Dole, Mitchell, Feinstein, and Boxer, and to Representative Eshoo, in June. At the time I did not expect this proposal to receive any serious consideration, and the form-letters I have received in response indicate my expectation was justified. It is my hope that with you it will find a more receptive audience. As I am not egocentric enough to believe I must be right and everyone else must be wrong, I would be interested in hearing your opinions on the positive and negative ramifications of this approach.

© Copyright 1994, 2005, Augustus P. Lowell

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