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Sep 26 2013

South Carolina ACA/Obamacare Responses: A Lesson in Communication Strategy

Yesterday, I sent letters to my representatives about how excited I was about Obamacare finally being implemented and how they weren’t pro-life if they stopped it from coming into effect. Today they responded.

Three different politicians representing me, three different approaches to communication strategy.  We’ve got the impersonal and avoidant form letter, the detailed policy concerns reply, and the I acknowledge your concerns as valid and appreciate your input email.  I am surprised to find that the last on the list, from Joe “you lie” Wilson, is actually the one I most positively responded to while Lindsey “Butters” Graham, who I hold in the least contempt, sent me a disappointing brush off.  Perhaps I will hear more from him.

Form letter from Senator Lindsey Graham:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from you.

In spite of the high volume of mail I receive daily, I look forward to reviewing your correspondence and providing a personal response as soon as possible.

As we continue our work in the 113th Congress, I look forward to supporting our troops in the War on Terror, repairing our economy and creating jobs, strengthening Social Security, lowering the tax burden on American families, and making the federal government more accountable and efficient.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance to you or your family, and if you need immediate assistance, please call my office at 202-224-5972. If your correspondence pertains to a scheduling request, please fax your request to (202) 224-3808.

Sincerely,

Lindsey Graham

A longer, topic specific form letter from Senator Tim Scott, which also includes my name:

Dear Miss Miller,

Thank you for writing me to request more information regarding a conservative alternative to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). I appreciate your input on this important issue and the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

As you may know, I am a staunch opponent of the PPACA, having voted multiple times to repeal the law, and I have consistently criticized President Obama’s implementation strategy for providing special favors and exemptions while ignoring Congressional intent and the rule of law. Recently, the President has challenged conservatives like myself on the issue of coming up with alternative plans rather than just fighting to dismantle his law. On August 9, 2013, at a press conference the President said, “There’s not even a pretense that [Republicans are] going to replace it with something better.”

In answering this challenge, I first want to mention that conservatives in Congress and the Republican party in general have not been without ideas for replacing the PPACA. In fact we have a history of bringing market-oriented alternatives to the table. The most notable plan, the Patients’ Choice Act of 2009, was put forth by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Personally, I have embraced some ideas that address some key problems in our health care system. By starting with medical tort reform, which has seen great success in states like Texas, and moving toward a more competitive environment that allows health insurance companies to sell their products across state lines, I believe we could really see some significant improvements in the cost of care. Additionally, I believe that policies to protect high risk individuals from being excluded from the system or denied health insurance coverage will be critical to improving access to care. Beyond those initial steps, I would like to see more general movement toward a market-oriented health system without all of the excessive regulations that drive up costs, as we are currently seeing in the PPACA exchanges. Private health insurance exchanges are currently allowing companies to offer more options to their employees at a lower cost to companies and often to the employees as well. The competition and cost-savings that private exchanges allow will soon be contrasted by the government-run exchanges that are set to go live on October 1, 2013.

A more general issue beyond these particular options is the importance of controlling costs. I believe in fighting to make sure everyone has access to quality care, but, as health care costs continue rise, such access has become increasingly out of reach for many families. That is why the debate over solutions should focus on actually reducing costs, instead of simply shifting the burden to a different party. The solution is to get the government out of the way. The regulatory burden and mandates that the PPACA will place on providers, businesses and families will only serve to increase costs and reduce access to care.

While I cannot claim to have an answer for every problem facing our country, I can assure you that I have spent a lot of time considering alternatives to the President’s health care law. Health care reform will be one of the defining issues of our time, so it is critical that we implement plans that will work, not just for the short term, but for future generations as well.

Again, thank you for sharing your perspective with me; I hope that you will continue to do so in the future. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or a member of my staff.

For more information, please visit my website at www.scott.senate.gov and subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SenatorTimScott and Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenatorTimScott for daily updates.

Sincerely,

Tim Scott
United States Senator

This communication is being sent via e-mail in order to save taxpayer dollars. If you would like a written letter, please notify our office. The information contained herein is intended for the use of the individual or entity named above. Please do not tamper with or alter this communication in any way.

A shorter response from Representative Joe Wilson that acknowledges my support of ACA and mostly just tries to assure me that my input is valued (see bolded text), while going off on a bit of a non-sequitur about how the bill is being implemented:

September 25, 2013Miss Ashley Miller
3001 Blossom St
Columbia, SC 29205-2605

Dear Ashley,

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding your support for the continued implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  I appreciate your taking the time to contact me.

I understand your concerns and welcome your interest in this matter.  As you are aware, the President signed this piece of legislation into law on March 23, 2010.  Since that time, much of the implementing authority has been passed to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as well as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with a majority of provisions set to take effect at the beginning of 2014.

Until that time, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind should legislation pertaining to this issue come before me on the House floor during the 113th Congress.

It is an honor to represent the people of the Second Congressional District of South Carolina, and I value your input.

If I may be of further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
(signed)

So there you go.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    smrnda

    I found this line in Scott’s letter to be ironic and remarkably unaware to the point of being darkly humorous:

    “That is why the debate over solutions should focus on actually reducing costs, instead of simply shifting the burden to a different party.”

    The costs (to the consumer, the employee, etc.) have been going up precisely because the shareholders, employers and executives have decided to shift the costs onto the consumer or worker in order to generate more profit. If we shifted the costs back to them, we might break even.

  2. 2
    Captaintripps

    Yesterday I discovered that my state senator, assemblywoman, and congresswoman are all sharing a new office they opened about three blocks from my house. I’m really looking forward to expressing my opinion in person!

  3. 3
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Didn’t Tim Scott notice that Texas was spending the same amount of money and covering about 2% of the people that Planned Parenthood had reached? And what a mess!

  4. 4
    nathanaelnerode

    Scott actually has beliefs and is standing up for them, although they are delusional, dangerous, insane beliefs.

    Wilson and Graham are trying not to say anything controversial — but Lindsey “War on Terror” Graham fails completely at this.

    I agree, Graham’s letter is by *far* the worst and most offensive.

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