This summer's health care debate focused on two very important questions: "What is the appropriate reform our health care system needs?" and "What is a member of Congress's most important responsibility to his constituents?"
I've always known that my most important job is listening and learning from Louisianians about their priorities and then being an active fighter to make sure their views are represented.
Keeping in touch with my constituents is the only way to do that, and that's why I host a town hall meeting in every parish each new session of Congress. This past August alone, I held more than 21 town hall meetings on health care throughout the state.
I really appreciated the dialogue I had with so many of you about reforming our health care system and keeping government bureaucrats out of the doctor-patient relationship.
During those town hall meetings, it was made expressly clear to me that Louisianians do not support anything like a government option. Nor do they want some 1,000-plus paged bill filled with mischief and items unrelated to our primary concerns about health care reform. Instead, folks I've spoken to want a much more focused approach to the problems that do exist, like buying insurance across state lines, tort reform and lowering prescription drug costs through reimportation.
It's a shame that most in Washington think we need to throw out the entire system and recreate a health care model that more reflects Canada and Europe than the remarkable medical system we have in America.
Of course, we have some real challenges in providing affordable coverage and quality care, but many Americans are happy with their current plans and they should not have to be upended in the process.
Most politicians would understand this if they too had town hall meetings. Instead, many were reluctant to meet with their constituents and hold honest discussions. Worse, many took their cue from the out-of-touch national media and immediately denigrated the character of those concerned citizens who attended these meetings and asked the tough questions.
Thankfully, the national media's mischaracterizations didn't fool many, and the uproar that was raised during this past recess really helped slow down this badly-written, 1,000-plus paged bill as some tried to sail it through Congress. Now, we must continue to ask the tough questions and hold Washington policymakers accountable to keep them from ushering in a government takeover of health care.
Please let me know about issues of importance to you and your families by contacting me at any of my stated offices or in my Washington, DC office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, 20510, or by phone at 202.224.4623. You can also reach me by e-mail on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov by clicking "Contact" and "Email Senator Vitter".