Excuse the crappy formatting, it is what it is, that’s how it came to me.  My personal info has been edited out.

November 13, 2009 Mrs. Gwen [Last Name, Address etc]

Dear Mrs. [Last Name]:

Thank you for contacting me about health care reform. As a nation, we have debated this issue not just for years, but for generations. The status quo is no longer an option for Louisianans who struggle every day with skyrocketing costs and few choices. If we do nothing, the federal government will simply go broke over the next several decades. If we do nothing, Medicare will be bankrupt in less than ten years. And if we do nothing, middle class families in Louisiana will be spending up to 60% of their household income on health insurance by 2016. While we have come a long way towards reforming our broken system, Senate health care legislation is still taking shape and your input is invaluable as I continue to advocate for Louisiana. As you may know, I have been a co-sponsor of the “Healthy American’s Act” (S.391) which guarantees every American high-quality, private health insurance that is portable from job to job. I support the bipartisan principles in this bill, many of which are included in the current proposals before Congress. These common ground principles include consumer protections which prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage if you become seriously ill. They will also limit out-of-pocket costs, ensure free preventive care, end gender discrimination, eliminate annual or lifetime caps on coverage and extend coverage for young adults. While most Members of Congress support these protections, there remains a great deal of work to achieve the right kind of health care reform. Let me be clear about what my priorities are as we move forward: ” I support health care reform that will reign in out-of-control costs without out adding one dollar to the national deficit. We need to lower our costs if we are to stay competitive in the global economy. ” As the Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business, one of my top priorities is to ensure affordable insurance and organized choice for small businesses. ” A competitive marketplace will provide Louisiana consumers with access to low-cost, stable health insurance. We must increase competition and choice in Louisiana where today, the top two health insurance companies dominate 87% of the individual insurance market. Providing more and better private choices will help taxpayers hold insurance companies accountable and drive down costs. ” Health care reform must provide subsidies to low-income and middle class families to purchase health insurance, thereby giving them greater choice and affordable coverage. ” Health care reform must include legislation that ensures every child so vulnerable that they had to be placed in foster care has consistent and portable health insurance coverage. It must guarantee that foster youth are never dropped from coverage and create a safety net so they continue to be covered even after they age out of the system. Opponents of reform have circulated a lot of misinformation about what health care reform will mean. I’d like to set the record straight on a few things. Health insurance reform will not create a government-run system with rationing. The reality is that insurance companies are already rationing your care. Right now insurance companies dictate what services you can and cannot get, not based on what you need or the best treatment, but based on the kind of insurance you have. Moreover, given the uncontrolled costs without reform, there is no guarantee that you can keep your coverage even if you like it. I am fighting for real reform to make sure that everyone has stable access to health insurance even if they change jobs or get sick. Here are some other facts about the bill before the Senate: ” Eliminating the fraud and waste in Medicare Advantage will not affect benefits for seniors. Medicare will be safe and stronger with reform. ” Members of Congress will not be exempt from reform. ” Reform will expand your choices, not limit them. ” There is no panel to decide end-of-life care in any of the bills. ” Reform will not cover illegal immigrants. ” Taxpayer dollars will not be used to pay for abortion. Misinformation like this stopped health care reform 16 years ago, and since then our costs have sky-rocketed. Between 1996 and 2006 alone, the average annual premium for family coverage obtained through an employer increased by 85 percent. We simply cannot afford the status quo. I am also committed to a transparent and informed public debate on this key issue. In fact, I recently joined seven of my colleagues in a letter urging the Senate leadership for increased transparency and public engagement as the health care debate moves to the Senate floor. We asked that the complete budget score and entire bill be posted publicly online for at least 72 hours before it is brought to a vote. I believe it is critical that constituents have the opportunity to evaluate these policies and communicate their concerns or support to their Members of Congress. As the Senate discusses health care reform, I want to hear from Louisianans, answer questions and keep you updated about what I am doing. That is why I have launched several new outreach initiatives. These new activities include a weekly internet address available via YouTube at www.youtube.com/SenatorLandrieu. I will also be conducting telephone town halls and local radio talk show interviews. Additionally, my office sends out a weekly email newsletter with newsworthy items and surveys that give Louisianans the opportunity to send feedback on which aspects of the health care debate are most important to them and what specific issues they would like to see addressed. To sign up, visit my website at http://landrieu.enews.senate.gov/mail/. Again, thank you for taking the time to send me your input and concerns on health care reform. Health care reform is not about Washington games; it is about the millions of Americans throughout this country who pay thousands of dollars to insurance companies and then get cut from coverage when they need it most. In the end, my main goal is to ensure that whatever Congress does will lower costs to families, small businesses and the nation. I trust that you will continue to contact me on matters of mutual concern. With warmest regards, I am Sincerely, Mary L. Landrieu United States Senator P.S. I am excited to announce that my office is launching new e-newsletters to keep you updated on what I am working on here in Washington, D.C. If you would like to receive the e-newsletter, please go to http://landrieu.enews.senate.gov/mail. Please include your zip code and interest areas so I can stay in touch about issues you care about most. MLL:jas

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