Letter to the Editor: Rep. Joe Atkins—Out of Touch

Inver Grove Heights resident Kevin Sethre feels Rep. Atkins is either "naïve to current events or wishes to deceive his constituents in showing his true political intentions."


In a recent email Joe Atkins offered the following statement regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) and it’s impact on the residents of Minnesota. 

My guess is most folks won't even notice a difference, now that Chief Justice Roberts has joined a liberal bloc of Supreme Court justices in upholding the Affordable Care Act. Since Minnesota has among the highest rates of insured residents in the country, the mandate for individuals to have health insurance will not be noticed by as many people here." 

Really? Apparently he hasn’t read the 425,116 words in the statute and 1,147,271 words (and counting) published so far in regulation documents associated with Obamacare.   

In an April 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) current projections show that upwards of 20 million people will be forced off of employer health plans as result of Obamacare and it’s ill-advised regulations, penalties and tax increases. A CNN Money report from March 10, 2011 detailed the impact of Obamacare on employers and the resulting cost increases and shedding of retiree health plans. 

Medical device makers are going to be impacted also due to taxes and regulations in Obamacare specifically directed toward makers of medical equipment. 

Minnesota is a leader in medical device research, development, manufacturing and distribution. It is no wonder that Boston Scientific recently announced the layoff of 1300 employees with the jobs going to China. Medical device companies employ people that Mr Atkins currently represents. A diminishing of jobs in this state will not enhance availability of employer provided health care. 

The Democrat Party (who’s moniker Joe Atkins runs under) has for years espoused a single payer government health care system. It appears that Joe Atkins is cultivating this notion. Mr. Atkins is either naïve to current events or wishes to deceive his constituents in showing his true political intentions. 

- Kevin Sethre   

Joe Atkins September 27, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Thank you, Kevin, for your letter. But you jump to a few assumptions that are incorrect. Below are a couple clarifications. Let's first talk about what I support in the Affordable Care Act. I absolutely support having insurance companies provide coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing children up to age 26 to remain covered on their parent's health plan. Those portions have been welcomed by consumers, providers, and insurers alike. But, like you, I definitely do NOT support the medical device tax. Particularly in Minnesota, that could have a dire impact on jobs and our economy, and I am part of the bipartisan opposition to that tax by Minnesota elected officials. As far as a single-payer government health care system, I don't think that would work, though you are correct that some Democrats would like to see it. Having studied a variety of so-called single-payer systems, I just don't find them to be very efficient or effective in the delivery of quality health care.
Al Tate September 27, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Good letter. Good response. I commend both for their thoughts and discussion. It sure is going to be interesting to see what happens with all of this.
Jeff Roberts (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Well said, Al.
Kevin Sethre September 27, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Hello Joe, Thanks for the reply. Forcing insurance companies to cover dependents to age 26 only increases the cost of insurance. What's next? 30? 40?. This only buttresses the "cradle to grave" intrusion that is becoming so prevalent. Other than those parents/guardians who wish to shield their dependents from making their own life decisions I have not witnessed the same support you state. Regards, Kevin Sethre
Al Tate September 27, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Kevin, let's hear your solution then. What's your plan to make this all work?
Deb Kammerer September 30, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I have been supportive of a single party payer (currently refered to as Affordable Health Care or Obama Care) program for decades. As a nurse I've seen so many situations where preventive care would keep people from having strokes or needing dialysis etc. Additionally, of all the people in politics, Joe Atkins has to be one of the finest candidates I've ever meet.
Jim W October 01, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Tort reform would do more then anything to lower the cost of health care. A 5 dollar mistake is not worth a 50 million dollar settlement. Ambulance chasers need to go, I was rear ended in my car and was not hurt but I had about 50 lawyers contact me to recover damages for injuries I did not have. I know I could have lied and walked away with a check from the other persons insurance for pain I did not have.
Jim W October 01, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Deb, The country is beyond broke, tell me one program the government has run with sucess? Why would we trust them? They cannot run their own life why do they continue to think they can run ours, I know whats best for me and my family, they have no clue.....
Jim W October 01, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Get ready to be blindsided by a barrage of new taxes. $569 billion worth... They'll be coming courtesy of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. And they won't just be affecting those who make over $250,000 as you'll soon see. The bulk of these taxes will be passed on directly to the middle class. That's because while a majority of these "stealth taxes" were designed to be taxes on businesses, they're actually be transferred directly to ordinary citizens.
Kevin Sethre October 02, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Al Tate commented: "Kevin, let's hear your solution then. What's your plan to make this all work?" Following is my response. Note- due to charactor restriction on this comment block my response will be in 3 installments. I stand by by my previous comments. Citizens should demand leadership from those they elect to public office. Not rubber stamps and platitudes. Kevin
Kevin Sethre October 02, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Installment I: Suffice to say I do not have all the answers. That said I do have eyes and ears and understand some basic tenets of the laws that govern us. Unlike some I do not wish to have it both ways. There is nothing in Obamacare that is desirable or productive to enhance our current health system. Read on….. For those who were attentive in civics class you would recall the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution. The 10th amendment enumerates that those powers not addressed in the constitution are reserved to the states. There is no reference to health care provisions in the constitution. Thus, health care and attendant administration should be left up to the states and/or the citizens within the states. Not a one size fits all approach as is Obamacare. If a state (by way of it’s electorate) wishes to get involved in the medical decisions of it’s citizens I have no problem with that concept. Why? Because I could move to another state if I do not agree with a state administered medical care edict. Installment II follows:
Kevin Sethre October 02, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Installment II: A good start would be tort reform. Next time you go to your physician ask him/her what they pay for malpractice insurance. It would astound you. I do not blame lawyers as some would do. I blame the juries (our neighbors, friends and relatives) who awarded the judgments. Remember, mal-practice insurance premiums are accounted for as part of your bill. Enhancing medical savings accounts would be a good step toward actual accountability in health care spending. I have one now. It works good for my family. A medical savings account is self directed money that I have available for certain (non catastrophic) medical issues that arise. Obamacare curtails the scope of medical savings accounts and their availability. Why? Because the power to control your life and medical decisions now rests with the federal government; not individuals and their doctors. A federal mandate of any stripe essentially consolidates power at the federal level removed from the citizens it affects.
Kevin Sethre October 02, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Installment III: Ultimately, health care is best served between the health care professional of my choice and myself and based on my individual situation. Government involvement (mandates, regulations) is one of the biggest cost drivers in the current system. We have gotten so used to having “somebody else pay” that we have lost sight of the fact that nothing is free. That money to pay the nurses and doctors and lab came from somebody’s pocketbook. Why would I want to hand over decisions to bureaucrats? I or my family can best make those decisions.


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