Monday, June 26, 2017

Letter to Orrin Hatch regarding the “Better Care Reconciliation Act”

Sent via fax:

Dear Senator Hatch,

My wife and I live in downtown Salt Lake City and enjoy walking to church at the LDS Chapel on 200 N and Quince street. On some Sunday mornings, we notice the large black SUVs of the Secret Service parked on the street and know that you’re in town and we’re probably going see you in Sacrament meeting. I have to admit that, in reference to his earpiece, I once asked a member of your security detail—in jest—“So, what’s the score?”

Senator, you and I have corresponded with each other a few times over the years and I’ve always enjoyed reading your responses, even when we did not see eye-to-eye on an issue. You had always struck me as open-minded and thoughtful in your approach to legislation and cordial with constituents. In recent years, however, you appear to have become less thoughtful, more partisan and increasingly detached from the concerns of the people that you represent—regardless of whether or not they voted for you. The more I hear and read the things that you say—especially when it comes to issues that are important to Utahns—the less you are perceived as a Senator from Utah.

“United States Senator” seems a less apt description for you since you have proven yourself so willing to tow the ideological line of your party even if the resulting policies don’t square with some of the founding principles of the country.

I confess that whenever I see you at church, I bite my tongue. There are so many things that I want to bring to your immediate attention but the venue just isn’t appropriate.

I believe in the strict separation of church and state. That government officials must consider the needs of all citizens not just those who voted for them or are like them in thought, philosophy, beliefs or appearance. I believe in freedom of religion but I also believe in freedom from religion. I am alarmed by the trend in “religious liberty” legislation that seeks to allow people to justify blatant discriminate by appealing to their ostensibly ecclesiastical beliefs. That is not “religious liberty,” it’s religious oppression. One group trying to force their personal beliefs onto society. It has always been my understanding that one’s rights end where another’s begin.

“Religious liberty” is just one of many instances of double-speak that the Republican Party has used to dupe the American people into accepting policies and legislation that hurts them. It seems that if anyone wants to know what a Republican sponsored bill will do, they just need to read the title it has been given and infer the opposite of what it says.

“No child left behind,” uses penalties that do, in fact, leave children behind.

“The Internet Freedom Act” is designed to destroy Net Neutrality, enabling internet access providers to handicap content creators.

“Right to Work” laws actually make it easier for employers to fire people without cause and to suppress wages.

The “Protect Life Act” could result in the loss of life for women that need to terminate a pregnancy for valid, medical reasons.

Which brings me to the so-called “Better Care Reconciliation Act” which will make healthcare for Americans worse than what they had prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

I know that you're an intelligent human being. That you understand how even the smallest changes in complex systems can have unforeseen consequences. Yet when an action is proposed that many equally intelligent people can see will have catastrophic results that you cannot honestly deny, why would you choose to do it anyway?

It is common knowledge that repealing the ACA and drastically reducing funding for Medicaid will result in millions of Americans losing their healthcare. Of those millions who will no longer be able to receive the medical attention that they need, I have an important question that I want you to answer publicly:

How many people are going to die as a direct result of repealing the ACA and defunding Medicaid?

How many Americans are going to suffer and lose their lives to treatable illnesses because Senator Orrin Hatch—and those who will have voted with him—made a conscious and deliberate choice to destroy something that is keeping them alive?

I will also ask, if you and your party manage to follow through on this asinine promise that could directly result in the loss of American lives, will you publicly accept responsibility for their deaths?

Will you publicly acknowledge that the blood of innocent American men, women and children will be on your hands?

As intelligent as you are, I'm sure that you can rationalize away any direct, legal responsibility for the deaths that will result from your legislative actions. The temporal laws of man, flawed and limited as they are, may not be able draw a direct connection between the deaths of innocents and your vote.
But, as a man who claims to be spiritual—who I see in church from time to time with my own eyes—I'm sure that you're familiar with Doctrine and Covenants Section 29 Verse 34 which says, "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal…”

The temporal laws of this world might consider you "not guilty" of any crime. Indeed, you will most likely not even be considered a suspect in the deaths of those who are now fearing the imminent loss of their healthcare.

But you must be aware of the inevitable consequences of your actions. I honestly don't think that you are as oblivious and myopic as our current President repeatedly proves himself to be.
More importantly, I think you understand—and would wisely never deny—that God's judgment carries greater weight than any temporal courtroom. Human justice is blind. God's is not.

I fear that I may be wrong about you. I fear that your attention is so fixated on the political returns of your actions that you are failing to consider their eternal ramifications.



Joseph L. Puente