Eshoo: "If in fact these cuts were being applied to lower the deficit, some people would say, well, okay, I guess we all have to sacrifice. But these cuts are being applied in areas that I find reprehensible [such as oil companies]. I think we can agree that oil companies are doing all right. Why should it be put on your backs and ruin a problem that has really worked well?
"I think the body politic will take notice of this. There's a reason they haven't applied this to people enrolled in Medicare right now -- they wouldn't vote for it. People who aren't in the program now aren't paying attention to this. We have to be concerned from one generation to the next. I don't believe that doing this strengthens our country in any way, shape, or form."
Medicare IS a single-payer system, she reminded one caller.
Caller says the insurance companies are out of control; they're gouging people and forcing them to choose [between food and health]. Why can't we stop them? Eshoo: "That's a very good question. What we did was to rein in the cost of what private insurance companies were doing. Exchanges will be set up next year. You can see that some companies are raising their rates, some up to 39 percent [or more].
"Imagine seniors being given a voucher and being thrown out into the private insurance market to find something. There has been much discrimination against women [and seniors]; [that's why Medicare was created]. The private insurance market has not endeared itself to people. The [Obama] health care plan was designed so that you could keep your current insurer if you liked. What I take from your comment is that there's a lot of money to be made by private insurers, and no confidence in [how they apply it]."
She's signing off with a suggestion that we look carefully at what Obama proposed in his recent speech. Don't forget to write or otherwise tell your representatives what you think of it; write letters to the editor, talk to your friends and community. "No senior in our country, or no one that will become a senior, should be thrown into the arms of the private insurance market. Real deficit and debt reduction, yes, but not on the backs of the people [who have built this country.] Medicare and its promise of being a guarantee should be preserved."
Rhetoric, to be sure, but rhetoric from someone who's consistently represented my views. Good to have heard her back all that up in a real-time conversation.