An Open Letter to Sen. Ron Johnson on Healthcare

Dear Senator Ron Johnson:

I am one of your constituents. You represent me, and I am ashamed that you do. I saw your vote today in the U.S. Senate to bring to the floor any number of terrifying bills that take varying damaging action against the Affordable Care Act and the principles of Americans to protect the less than fortunate of us all. You have seen the CBO scores and you have read the bills. You are not dumb. You were a small business owner and have been in the Senate now for a while. There is no excuse for your vote to advance this dangerous movement.

Still, like anyone, I suppose, I have a greedy reason for writing. I am a small business owner with a pre-existing condition. At my doctor’s appointment today, I was talking to my doctor about how impossible it was for me to find a health insurance plan prior to the installation of the Affordable Care Act. I used to shrug off my friends and work associates’ claims that having something as small as headaches years back could be reason to deny health insurance coverage or charge cost prohibitive rates. Then I aged out of my parents’ health insurance plan and received dozens of denial packets for every single insurer that I applied with, and apologetic insurance brokers I had engaged to find me a plan.

I have family members with more serious pre-existing conditions, ones that have peaked in major hospital admissions and costs that would have exceeded lifetime caps before the Affordable Care Act. They would be significantly sicker now without the ACA, or dead in some cases.

No reasonable person has claimed the Affordable Care Act is perfect. You know that, because you have spent years in the Senate taking actions to cripple it at every chance. President Obama had next to no support from his Republican House and Senate. Republican governors like our honorable WI Governor have maneuvered to gut the financial stability of the ACA marketplaces, not to mention coordinating to force the federal government to operate what should have been state-run ACA marketplaces, only to then mock when it had operational problems. Had you done your job and worked to fix the ACA’s shortcomings, and encouraged your fellow Senators and counterparts in the House, as well as GOP governors across the nation, to do the same, perhaps you wouldn’t have needed to take such a vote today.

Healthcare should not be a partisan issue. How impossible must it be as an insurance company, a legislator, a business executive, a healthy person with health insurance, a sick person without it, and those on Medicare and Medicaid, to think that every time there is a new party in the White House – or the Congress changes majority party – we could all be in this same conundrum again.

Do your job. Represent me and my family, my fellow business owners and their staffs and companies, my friends, and every Wisconsinite who is owed your honesty about healthcare and your diligence to ensure everyone who needs it is able to receive it. Finally, I don’t want to hear about everyone who needs it having access to it, that is a completely different thing and you know that. Don’t insult me.

I will be watching for your response – please do respond in writing. And I will be monitoring your votes, and your public statements.

Thank you.


Chris Byrnes

This letter – with only minor editing for privacy – was sent to Senator Ron Johnson today. It is meant to represent a general understanding of the items mentioned.

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