Call Your Congressman About ObamaCare?

Eric Renderking Fisk - August 10th - 22nd, 2009 Bookmark and Share

Ren's Rants - The Fedora Chronicles Eric 'Renderking' FiskAfter more then a week of of trying to do research for this rant that I started on August 10th, I've come to a conclusion. Nobody knows enough about this issue to be qualified to talk about it, nor does anyone have an unbiased opinion about this issue. Even the government websites are a little sketchy because there's some bitterness towards people who are simply asking questions, vilifying everyone who has concerns and calling them either secret conservative operatives or shills for the insurance companies.  I'm irritated with the partisan guff and the vilification against those who just want to know what this thing is. I share the frustration felt by those who are labeled as "idiots" because they have openly asked questions or have voiced concerns over this plan.

This could be considered a sign of paranoia, believing anyone who has a question is out to get you. Granted - there are those in the media who have openly said that they want Obama and his healthcare plan to fail, but I digress.  

The first, and maybe only, problem with this issue is the ambiguity, the vagueness of "Health Care Reform." What does it mean, exactly? What's the name of the bill? What's it's number or designation? What is actually in the bill? Is there more than one bill? By trying to find the answers to these questions, I've only come up with more questions.

So, what is the healthcare reform plan?  What is this issue really about?

H.R.3200 - America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009

Ren Serious NightThat's the name of the bill that's the center  of the controversy. There's also "Improving Health Care for All Americans Act" or "H.R. 3218" as it's known on The Avenue, from what I gather it's an alternative bill proposed by Republicans. I'm not 100 percent sure I know that there is a huge difference. On the surface they seem to me to be two versions of the same idea, just phrased differently.

I was confused. I was even more puzzled with the amount of rhetoric being spewed by both sides.

First, there's the Democrats who are screaming and yelling that this is an immediate crisis that needs to be tackled "NOW!" We have to pass healthcare reform NOW! There's no more time, the crisis is out of hand. We have run out of time and we need to push this forward NOW! Democrats and their supporters are yelling "Now, Now, Now!" as if we're all paratroopers ready to jump out of the plane and parachute into action.  They are screaming health care is being "taken over" by the insurance companies and something must be done... and we have this deadline - September 15th, 2009. Why? I don't know.

Republicans and conservatives in the media are trying to convince us that this is a giant leap towards socialism and it must stopped. Sarah Palin and others said that this is going to lead to "Death Panels" where teams of bureaucrats will decide who lives and who dies based on any number of different factors such as class, age, abilities.

I have my own questions, Will there be a bureaucracy that will over-rule our Dr's diagnosis and treatment plans? What effect will H.R. 3200 have on those who already have health insurance? How will it effect my family and the insurance we already have? I wasn't sure what to do or what to think (other then that everyone is crazy except us... and I'm not even to sure about that...) I had to get my own answers.

Luckily for me (and for you, too) Mitch Stewart, the director of Organizing for America sent me this email that gave me a great idea...

Organizing for America
Eric --

All throughout August, our members of Congress are back in town. Insurance companies and partisan attack groups are stirring up fear with false rumors about the President's plan, and it's extremely important that folks like you speak up now.

So we've cooked up an easy, powerful way for you to make a big impression: Office Visits for Health Reform.

All this week, OFA members like you will be stopping by local congressional offices to show our support for insurance reform. You can have a quick conversation with the local staff, tell your personal story, or even just drop off a customized flyer and say that reform matters to you.

We'll provide everything you need: the address, phone number, and open hours for the office, information about how the health care crisis affects your state for you to drop off (with the option of adding your personal story), and a step-by-step guide for your visit.

According to our records, you live near Rep. Paul Hodes's office in Keene, NH.

Sign up now to visit Rep. Paul Hodes's office in Keene this week.

(Not your representative, or think there might be another office that's easier for you to get to? Click here to find a different office.)

As you've probably seen in the news, special interest attack groups are stirring up partisan mobs with lies about health reform, and it's getting ugly. Across the country, members of Congress who support reform are being shouted down, physically assaulted, hung in effigy, and receiving death threats. We can't let extremists hijack this debate, or confuse Congress about where the people stand.

Office Visits for Health Reform are our chance to show that the vast majority of American voters know that the cost of inaction is too high to bear, and strongly support passing health reform in 2009.

Don't worry if you've never done anything like this before. The congressional staff is there to listen, and your opinion as a constituent matters a lot. And if you bring a friend, you'll have more fun and make an even greater impact.

Click below to sign up for an Office Visit for Health Reform:

Wherever you live, these visits matter: Many representatives are pushing hard toward reform, and they are taking a lot of heat from special interests. They deserve our thanks and need our support to continue the fight. But those who are still putting insurance companies and partisan point-scoring ahead of their constituents must know that voters are watching -- and that we expect better.

Earlier this week, the President wrote that "this is the moment our movement was built for" and asked us all to commit to join at least one event this month. This is the way to answer that call, and rise to the challenge of this moment together.

Thank you for going the extra mile when it matters the most,


Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America

I have to give Mitch Stewart credit. This really is a great idea. Call your congressman...

Paul Hodes1317 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5206 Fax: (202) 225-2946

29 Center Street, Keene, NH 03431
Phone: (603) 358-1023 Fax: (603) 358-1025

221 Main Street, Suite 201, Nashua NH
Phone: (603) 579-6913 Fax: (603) 579-6916

18 North Main Street, Suite 400, Concord, NH 03301
Phone: (603) 223-9814 Fax: (603) 223-9819

151 Main Street,
Suite 2
Berlin, NH 03570
Phone: (603) 752-4680

But what I don't agree with is calling up my congressman Paul Hodes and tell him to back this health reform bill blindly when I still have questions or concerns. I'm not going to call him up and say "Hey, Paul... welcome back to New Hampshire! How's your summer so far? Good? Great... Hey - do me a favor and vote for this health care reformed thingy. I don't know what the name of the bill is, or the House number - but I just want you to back it anyway."

But I did like the idea of calling up my congressman and ask him (or maybe in your case, her) a couple of questions.

What's the official "name" of ObamaCare/Health Care reform and the house bill number?

What does the bill actually mean? If passed - what is it supposed to do for the American people?

What about the claims by some that this will lead to nationalizing health care, health care rations, and a government panel could over-ride a doctor's diagnosis/treatment plan?

Have you read the whole bill? If the answer's no - then why are you voting for it?

I came up with this idea and I sat on it for a while and thought that maybe I should turn this into a project, a sort of a civics exercise. I posted this on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and sent messaeges to some of our staff members to see what would happen if they asked honest questions to their congressman or congresswoman.

Cut out the middle man - the main stream media. I want to encourage everyone to call your senator and congressman and ask them YOUR questions about HR 3200 - the health care bill everyone is talking about. Find out for yourself what it is, and more ...importantly what it isn't. Please feel free to let me know what happens when you do. I want to publish something about this on my own site, to have your voices heard.

The reason why I said "Cut out the middle man..." because I also believe that the media has been sensationalizing the conflicts and the debate about healthcare, beefing up reports of controversy and vitriol at the town hall meetings Senators and Congressman have been having all across the country. Also, let's do a little reporting ourselves. Let's see what our reps really know about this bill. I don't think there's any harm in asking questions so long as they're respectful and nobody is out to play "gotcha."

I asked four staff members to participate, call up your reps and write your own articles on what happens...

Then I made my own phone calls. And then I waited. 

Ren Fisk' shedAnd the phone calls came. For the first couple of days the phone was ringing "off the hook" about this issue. But none of them came from Paul Hodes office, all the other people on The Fedora Chronicles who called their congressman got results. The were telling me about the conversation that they had with their staff members and what they knew or didn't know about the Health Care Reform Act.

Paul Hodes office didn't call, respond with an e-mail, a PM, IM, or tweet. Over the course of the following days (August 11th - 13th) I left messages, using all of the possible avenues to contact him. Nothing. By the time this rant is finished and published, it'll be one week since my last attempt at trying to contact Paul Hodes' office and to ask him what he thinks about this bill. Still nothing.

While I've been putting the finishing touches on this rant I've been reaching out to see if there are more politicians that I can talk to who have the answers to these questions. I want to hear from the people who are supposed to represent us tell me what they think about this bill, what's actually in it, if they've read it. I called my senator, Judd Gregg - hoping to get some response.

I'm not asking this as a Republican, a Democrat, or even as an Independent or a Traditionalist. I am a citizen of the United States that has questions about this bill that I would like to be answered. And I would like to get these answers from the person who is supposed to be representing me and my family in Washington.

I want to know the answers to these questions from the person whom we "hired" during the last election to answer these questions. I know that I can get "answers" from the website made by the people who are pushing forth this bill.

 I would like to be able to sit down at a table, across the a desk with some of my local citizens - or just one on one - and be secure in the knowledge that this guy knows what he's talking about and knows what he's voting on.

The most Paul Hodes could muster is this vague statement on his website...

Congressman Paul Hodes’ Statement on President Obama’s New Hampshire Health Care Town Hall Meeting

August 11, 2009: Portsmouth, NH--- Congressman Paul Hodes released the following statement after President Obama’s New Hampshire Health Care Town Hall Meeting.

"Today, we had a civil dialogue on health insurance reform that will affect thousands of New Hampshire families. President Obama laid out an important case for reform that will lower costs for every family, increase quality of care and put families and their doctors in control of their health care. I look forward to continuing to work with President Obama and continuing to listen to the people of New Hampshire as we work to pass real health insurance reform this year."

Not the specific answers I was looking for, and falls short of Mr. Hodes addressing the issues and concerns voters have.  

What began as a rant about the health care reform bill and what it means has turned into something else. By trying to participate in this debate, by trying to contact my congressman to find out what the bill really says and would mean for all of us, I found that my congressman is the weak link in the chain. By following the director of Organizing for America Mitch Stewart advice or request, I found out that my congressman who belongs to the same political party as the president doesn't want to talk to his constituency about an issue that is so very important to this administration.

That's not just my opinion, it's one held by other local citizens and published in editorials around my region.

I'm deeply concerned. I wanted Mr. Hodes or one of his people call me up and explain to me - not as the webmaster of The Fedora Chronicles but as a voter - what this bill is supposed to be about. Are we supposed to support this bill on blind faith, because the president thinks this is a good idea we should just accept it?

When the Bush Administration asked us to do that, it was ludicrous and appalling... now it's being just a good American? Excuse me?

I know that I could do more digging and find out what this bill really means. But I don't want that now. I want THIS guy to explain it to me - or someone from his office to do this. I want my representative who represents me to do his job. I want him to stop ducking the questions, and I'm not alone...

FOXNews: Accused of Hiding During Recess, Congressmen Now Considering Health Care Town Halls

Members of Congress who were accused of avoiding health care town halls are now embracing the sometimes fiery forums after voters and local press faulted them for skipping out during their August recess. 

Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., held a private health care discussion with residents of a single retirement home in Hanover in early August, but he has held no large in-person public forum.

"[Is he] reluctant to hear unfiltered, unscreened questions and feedback on this important bill from their constituents?" asked an editorial Sunday in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

"He's not running scared," said Mark Bergman, the communications director for Hodes who told that such a forum was in the planning process and noted Hodes' tele-town halls and talk radio appearances. "He is engaged on this issue -- he is talking to folks and hearing from all sides."

Nashua Telegraph:

"Lawmakers must stand up to critics." 

New Hampshire’s representatives in Congress, Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter, need to meet with their constituents in the open town-hall format to discuss health care. They need to do so as soon as possible, and they need to stand up for what they believe in despite the bullying tactics of the opposition.

Whether Shea-Porter or Hodes are planning open town-hall meetings is a moving target. Shea-Porter earlier in the month issued a statement suggesting that she would not, but that could change any day now. Hodes has alluded to the possibility of open town-hall meetings at some point in the near future but has provided no specifics.

Avoiding these meetings only feeds into the hysteria. Our lawmakers need to stand up for their beliefs, no matter how unruly the crowd.

Union Leader: "Ducking duo:
Hodes, Shea-Porter looking bad."

Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009 If God has given Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes the brains He has bestowed on little green frogs, New Hampshire's two U.S. representatives will wise up and submit themselves this month to actual face-to-face, unrestricted meetings with their constituents. The longer they wait, the worse they look, and the happier are their political rivals.

Hodes and Shea-Porter need to put down the phone and the other contrived and restricted public access points they have ginned up and instead place themselves in front of the public. Really. It's not difficult.

I started this rant on August 10th, and I'm wrapping it up for publication on August 22nd... and still no word from my congressman or his office. How is this good representation?

Just because I stop writing this rant and publish it, doesn't mean that it's over. I still want an answer to my questions from my Representative, the man the voters put into office this past election. At the same time I want to encourage everyone to look for the answers themselves. Get in touch with your congressman or congresswoman. Call your senators too. Who else can you ask about this bill? Call your doctors office, or anyone you know who might have an educated opinion on Health Care Reform. Everyone but those in the media.

The director of Organizing for America Mitch Stewart still has a nugget of a good idea - call those people who represent you. Get involved and find out for yourself what this HR 3200 bill really means. It's time to end some of the confusion on this issue and start a real non-partisan debate.

More In This Series

"What is the official name and House bill number of ObamaCare/Health Care Reform?" Jason 'Cousi' Cousineau called Representative Richard E. Neal for answers to our questions...

"HR 3200 Call To Congressman Pallone," Doug Palumbo shares with us his call to his congressman about HR 3200, the "ObamaCare" health bill. Bookmark and Share