Last month, I took a trip to Washington with NJ Citizen Action, a grassroots organization and advocacy group. About 50 people from various congressional districts went to talk to our representatives during the height of the health-care debate.
I was lucky to meet with staff members for my congressman, Rep. Chris Smith. We had a lengthy and substantive discussion about health-care reform.
Smith’s staff said he is opposed to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to buy insurance. I hope he changes his mind. The mandate is essential to the stability of the insurance markets. Without it, prices would skyrocket and we couldn’t maintain popular provisions of the ACA, like mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions.
I am grateful to have gotten answers to our questions. But I’m disappointed that it took a trip to Washington to get them. There are few opportunities to get information about Smith’s positions on pending legislation. He hasn’t had a town hall event in almost 25 years. In months of phone calls to Smith’s office, his staff has told me repeatedly, “I’m sorry, I’m not on the legislative staff, so I don’t know the congressman’s position.”
Smith would rather be inaccessible than take a stance on something remotely controversial. But you don’t have to take my word for it: Call Smith’s office (202-225-3765) and ask what his position is on something, anything. I bet the staff won’t be able to tell you.
This letter also appeared in the Asbury Park Press.