The President September 14, 2009
Dear Mr. President:
My name is Thair Phillips and I am the newly elected President of RetireSafe, an organization representing 400,000 Americans, mostly seniors, mostly over the age of 70. My board and I listened carefully to your speech to Congress and we have a great appreciation for your desire to reform health care in America. We are especially impressed by your declaration that you were willing to listen to anyone with a serious proposal, and that your door would always be open. We respectfully request a meeting with a member of your staff for that purpose and have called the Office of Public Engagement to begin that process.
Health care reform is extremely important to us and we have been vocal in identifying those parts of the evolving legislation that concern our supporters. But we see that loud rhetoric and hardening positions driven by partisan politics will not get any of us where we need to be. We want to step outside our box and hope that it will be possible to work together in new ways to shape the future.
In keeping with your initiative, this letter is about what we believe are principles that bring us together. We are encouraged by your willingness to look at tort reform as one solution to the increasing cost of health care because we believe it will reduce unnecessary costs caused by doctors practicing defensive medicine. We also applaud your commitment to addressing the Medicare Part D coverage gap, as this is a core issue for our supporters. Similarly, we are in accord with your commitment to establishing true portability of coverage. This issue affects Americans of all ages but, as you know, it is especially important to experienced workers who are too young for Medicare and find themselves out of a job or unable to make career changes because of their health care needs. Our economy is hobbled by this self inflicted handicap. We are sure there are other areas of agreement just as there will be points upon which we disagree. We ask to be heard.
Like you, we think that now is time for action and civility. There is no other group of Americans who are more respectful than seniors, but they also want to be heard. We think that no small part of the acrimony at recent town hall meetings came from the frustration that has built up because older America have not had enough platforms from which to speak. There are many seniors who voted for you but don’t feel they are well represented by other senior organizations. We believe many of them have found a home with us and we are proud of that.
RetireSafe is beginning a project which will help us reach beyond our current supporter base to ask other older Americans to share with us their opinions on health care reform. We are determined to ask fair, meaningful, open ended questions. We will accurately and faithfully compile our findings, follow-up on the answers we receive, and offer the un-edited complete results to you, the Congress, and the public. While this campaign doesn’t reflect a change in our beliefs, it does reflect a change in our approach.
As the new President of RetireSafe, I commit to being part of the solution and I feel the first step is to listen. Some may think it presumptuous to request this meeting but I think you are sincere in your commitment to listen and to your open door policy. You should know that we are sincere in ours. We would like to discuss our upcoming project and get your input. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with someone from your staff as soon as possible.
Thair Phillips, President