Open letter to Senator-Elect Brown

21 January 2010, 5:46 am

Dear Senator-Elect Brown,

I am writing to urge you to reconsider your support of the pending health care reform legislation.

My experience has afforded me some insights which you might find useful in considering this matter.

First, I’ve experienced directly how badly our current system fails us. I went several years without the benefit of regular health care. As a freelancer, I made too much money to qualify for medical assistance programs, but too little to afford insurance payments. I am fortunate that in that time I did not suffer serious injuries, and that I did not have chronic illnesses which worsened.

Shortly after moving to Massachusetts I took a full-time job with health benefits. Last year, I took a tumble and broke my arm. I was treated in the emergency room and released; about a week later I had completely routine outpatient surgery with no complications. I wasn’t even admitted to the hospital.

The total bill for my care was more than the sticker price of many new cars. It could literally have formed the down payment of many homes. I can scarcely imagine the consequences for me if I’d suffered this injury without insurance. It might have bankrupted me. Without adequate medical care, the injury might have permanently impacted my ability to work.

There is something very wrong with this picture. It’s not right that prohibitive insurance costs place regular preventive medical care out of the reach of so many Americans. It’s not right that the price of an everyday injury could push someone over the brink of bankruptcy.

My second insight comes from my work in the software industry. I hear many people expressing concern that that healthcare reform is important, but this is not “the right plan.” I think this is misguided, even harmful. Making healthcare better for all is a very complex challenge. In the software industry we understand that extremely complex problems can’t always be solved exactly on this first iteration. We know that “perfect is the enemy of good.” We try to ship something good, then make it better. We also know that when a critical problem is discovered, we sometimes need to push an emergency fix to market as soon as possible.

That’s the situation America finds itself in. We need an emergency fix as soon as possible. The current package isn’t the best of all possible health care reform initiatives, but it has one enormous advantage over any other plan: it’s been through negotiation and debate, and it’s much closer to being “shippable” than anything else could be.

Although my insights come from the software industry, if you think about it, legislation is software. One of the aspects of the Founding Fathers’ genius is that they gave our nation the tools to modify its laws, even The Constitution, as required by changing conditions. If we pass this package and it doesn’t always work exactly as its authors intended — which is likely — then it can be amended to correct its deficiencies. If it somehow makes the situation worse for a majority of our citizens, it can be repealed outright.

If we do nothing, or if we derail the current effort in favor of other legislation that will take years more to work its way through the system, we face these certainties: Illnesses that could easily be prevented will keep children out of school and adults out of work for days they don’t need to miss. Treatable illnesses will worsen and become chronic, reducing quality of life and vastly increasing the expense of managing them. People will die when they don’t need to.

How can America accept this choice, the do-nothing status quo?

How could you justify acting to prolong it?

Thank you for your time and attention.


Doug Mayo-Wells

4 comments on “Open letter to Senator-Elect Brown”

  1. Terri

    And are you sending hard copy of this to his office? Or at least emailing it? Or all of the above? Love it. Please please send it.

  2. villain

    Yes, hard copy. Looks like 200 Reservoir Street, Needham, MA 02494 is the address of record.

  3. Terri

    Looks like maybe that’s his campaign office? His State House office address is

    Senator Scott P. Brown
    State House, Room 410
    Boston, MA 02133

  4. villain

    Oh, good catch, thanks!


Comments are subject to moderation. Unless you have been whitelisted, your comment will not appear on the site until it is approved. Links are allowed for whitelisted commenters; images are not permitted.