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Health Care

Remembering America’s Senator


As the entire world now knows, Senator Edward Kennedy has lost his fight to brain cancer.

There have been, and will still be, millions of words written about America’s Senator, and I would be remiss not to add my own thoughts.

First and foremost, I take great comfort in knowing that man with great flaws can still achieve great things. As we are all flawed, Senator Kennedy’s example of overcoming flaws serves to show each of us and all of us to always to be better, to do better, and to look to better days. His example allows me to learn from my own mistakes instead of dwelling upon them.

Ted Kennedy joined the U.S. Senate when I was about four months old. For my entire life, his family has served as an example of public service. As I became interested in politics, I was drawn to the legacy of President Kennedy’s charisma and ability to inspire. As I became a student of politics, I was drawn to Senator Robert Kennedy’s ideological transformation after his brother’s death. As I matured in political thought and reasoning, I became totally enamored in Senator Edward Kennedy’s ability to see the big picture, to compromise when necessary, and to incrementally make gains that benefit all Americans, and, indeed, all humanity.

Two weeks ago, I held a healthcare roundtable. It was a very civil discussion, where I got a chance to better understand the difficulties faced by working families due to for-profit healthcare. As person after person told the stories of a broken system that left family members either without coverage or with crippling bills, I couldn’t help but think that we can do better. We must do better.

I told the “Organizing for America” representative that was present, “Please tell President Obama that it will be one of America’s great failures if Senator Kennedy were to pass without true healthcare insurance reform being enacted.” How I wish America’s Senator could have lived to see true reform of America’s healthcare system.

I am a proponent of a single-payer system. Given the opportunity, I will vote for single-payer, understanding, as Senator Kennedy did, that we may have to get there incrementally.

Despite that understanding, I call on our Democratic majority to start anew on crafting a bill that will truly provide universal coverage. I call on the conservative elements of our party to stop carrying the water of the Republican Party and the multi-billion dollar insurance companies. I call on my President to understand that no member of the Republican Party of No is going to vote with us, no matter how much we compromise.

Mr. President, in your inaugural address you offered to extend a hand, if our opponents would unfold their fist. They have not, and you should withdraw your hand of compromise on this particular issue. We have the votes to pass a major bill of reform, and we should pass the legislation for which a majority of Americans voted in November 2008.

TeamTudor’s thoughts are with the Kennedy family tonight. We mourn a great legislative leader, a friend of working families, and an example of greatness overcoming weakness.

Your brother, Doug

Moral Courage


Our elected representatives in Washington have departed the capital for their August recess, and they have chosen to not pass legislation reforming our nation’s healthcare system. There are many reasons for their lack of action, most of which are propagated by conservative Republican and Democratic obstructionists, who are receiving enormous amounts of lobbyist money and spreading irrational fear regarding a public option.

I believe the main reason, though, is the lack of basic moral and political courage. It takes courage to stand up to the multi-billion dollar insurance and pharmaceutical industries. It takes courage to admit that a law is not perfect, but should be enacted anyway. It takes courage to take a stand for the less fortunate amongst us.

I support HR 3200, but I do so only as a stepping stone to a single-payer system. My main concern about HR 3200 is that it doesn’t go far enough. By bowing to conservative and industry pressures, the bill will probably not achieve the desired end state wanted by the vast majority of Americans. The public has overwhelmingly voiced that they want a system that will provide quality healthcare without breaking a family’s finances.

By going to a single-payer system, much like the current Medicare system, we can provide higher quality healthcare to all Americans at a lower overall cost per person. This is mainly accomplished by reducing the insurance industry’s bureaucracy. The overhead for Medicare is about 4%, compared to about 40% for private insurers. By going to a single-payer system, we reduce the overhead by cutting out the insurance industry’s profit motive.

A number of other advantages of a single-payer system: no one is denied coverage for preexisting conditions; small businesses will prosper as they get out of the role of healthcare providers; and catastrophic treatment will not bankrupt families.

I strongly believe that our country funds its priorities. If we collectively believe, as I do individually, that our citizens are our most important national resource, we should absolutely, positively adopt a single-payer national healthcare system. It is cheaper; it is better; and it is the right thing to do.

Throughout our history, America has shown the courage to pass laws to correct many of society’s shortcomings. Our elected representatives must now show that they have the courage of their predecessors. It is far past time to fix our broken healthcare system.

Your brother, Doug

Healthcare Up Close and Personal


It seems there are times when the scope of a challenge is so large, a solution seems indescribable. One way to deal with these enormities is to reduce the scope to a personal example.

Summer Ellen, or Elle, as her parents call her, was four months in the womb when the doctors told her parents of a very serious medical condition. She would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. In the normal heart, oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right atrium from the body, travels to the right ventricle, and then is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs where it receives oxygen. Oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the left atrium from the lungs, passes into the left ventricle, and then is pumped out to the body through the aorta. In Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, most of the structures on the left side of the heart are small and underdeveloped. If not corrected, the baby will only live for about two weeks after birth.

The first time her father saw her, Elle was three days old. She was in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and, due to swelling, her chest was still open from the surgery that had been performed that morning. Over the next seven years, she would have a total of three more open heart surgeries, numerous catheterizations, and two brain surgeries for a related abnormality called a Chiari Malformation.

At nine years old, Elle is a beautiful young lady with big blue eyes and long golden hair. She is intelligent, loving, and artistic. At times, she can also be bratty and mischievous. In other words, she is a regular kid.

Elle has been very lucky to have had government-funded healthcare throughout her life. Without it, she would have denied insurance coverage due to having a preexisting condition – at birth. Her family would have been financially devastated, even though both of her parents had full-time employment. Even now, she will fall off her father’s coverage at age 18, unless she is a college student. As a student, she can remain covered until 23. At 23 years old, under today’s healthcare system, Elle will no longer have access to medical care.

I write this to ask you to support President Obama’s healthcare reform, House Resolution 3200, which will provide a public option and will nearly eliminate any uncovered citizens or denial based on preexisting conditions.

I also write this to thank you for giving Elle a life.

She is my daughter, and her healthcare is government-provided TriCare, due to my Navy career. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing doctors to fix her heart.

Your brother, Doug