Monday, May 18, 2009

Conservative, rural Democrats putting Sen. Baucus (D-MT) on notice about single payer healthcare

As I noted before, Sen. Baucus (D-MT) has repeatedly refused to allow single-payer healthcare advocates to testify before the Senate.

Now, a group of conservative Montana Democrats are drafting a letter calling on Baucus to reverse his stonewalling on single-payer and end his kowtowing to the health insurance industry. From a post on DemocraticUnderground, where one of the users has helped draft the letter:

Honorable Max Baucus

It has not escaped our notice that the Senate Finance Committee, which you head, has excluded from its deliberations advocates of a single-payer public program. The only voices your committee is choosing to listen to are those of corporate healthcare interests, the very interests that have brought about the crisis currently afflicting us.

Nor has it escaped our notice that you have taken more money from companies committed to the healthcare status quo than any other Democrat in Congress. Though you had no serious Republican challenger in 2008, you accepted the following sums of money from for-profit healthcare interests:

Insurance companies: $592,185
Health professionals: 537,141
products: 524,813
Health services/HMOs: 364,500
Hospitals/nursing homes: 332,826
Total: $1,826,652

Ninety-one percent of these political contributions came from out of state. No wonder some call you "the Senator of K Street."

It is clear to us that you are too beholden to these groups to oversee a fair discussion of issues involving them. You should immediately pass off the chairmanship of the committee, at least for the duration of the health insurance deliberations, to another senator less in the pocket of these special interests.

Advocates of a single-payer healthcare option, an option favored by sixty percent of the American public and operating quite efficiently and far less expensively in Canada and virtually every European country, need to receive a fair hearing by your committee, with or without you as its chairman.

We supported you in the last election. But if you continue to side with large corporations against ordinary Montanans, rest assured that we will support a Democratic challenger to you in the next primary.


Richard Turner, Secretary
Beaverhead County Democrats

Hopefully if Baucus faces enough fire from his voting constituents, he'll stop listening exclusively to his moneyed constituents.