Dear Senator Cheatham and Representatives Mendive and Wisniewski,
My name is Cory Alexander, MD. I am a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with 33 years of experience and am 58 years old. I have lived in District 3 for 6 years. I moved to Idaho in 1995 and lived in Twin Falls until 2011, spent 2 years in Helena, Montana, and then moved here. I have been licensed to practice Medicine in the State of Idaho since 1995. I have met face to face and had meaningful discussions with all three of you. As a physician I believe I am compelled to be engaged in civic activity. My opinions are greatly shaped by my experiences in my office. I love my job and have an implicit duty to speak up for injustice when I see it. The opinions in this letter are my own and do not represent any organization or political party.
I am writing to you today to express my severe disappointment in your decision to vote in favor of S1159 and H296 in the Idaho State Legislature during the 2019 Legislative Session. Like many Idahoans, I have a deep fear that similar legislation will come up again in the 2020 legislative session. I am telling you now that if this happens, your yes vote will undermine the constitution of our great state and turn us further in the direction of corporate control and oligarchy. We the people of Idaho will stand up and fight back with even more fervor than we did in 2019. It is our duty. This issue is nonpartisan. It’s a matter of rights and fairness.
Throughout my medical career, I have witnessed the gradual deterioration of the quality of American Medicine due to government prioritizing profits over people. Here in Idaho, millions of dollars were wasted due the Medicaid gap, something the state legislature failed to address for 8 years despite multiple well-intentioned bipartisan efforts. In addition, the Medicaid Gap harmed thousands of citizens of our state including my ex-Husband, who literally died because he could not afford to receive care for a cancer that was both preventable and treatable. Thousands of Idahoans suffered because Medicaid was ideologically unpopular to the State Legislators. Illness does not discriminate by political party. It hurts everyone. When the citizens of Idaho had enough of the inaction, we used the ballot initiative, and Proposition 2 was born. As you are aware it passed with 61 percent of the vote with strong bipartisan support. It was hard work. I was one of the signature gatherers. I canvassed door to door in the snow. We knocked on all doors, Republican, Democrat, and Independent. The vast majority of Idahoans signed the petition and thanked me for my dedication. Most were like me….they had a friend or family member who could not access medical care because of lack of health insurance.
I watched with horror and disbelief as Senate Bill 1159 was introduced during the 2019 session. It happened about fiveweeks after I participated in Advocacy Day for Medicaid Expansion. That day was filled with hope and optimism and the spirit of Bipartisanship. On that day I sat across the table from you Representative Wisniewski and you Senator Cheathom with a fellow District 3 constituent and Physician, Cheri Zao. We discussed our similarities and our values. It was cordial, open, and respectful. I documented our meetings with photos. We felt heard. I took a day off from my job to travel. I felt obligated to speak up for those who couldn’t. Senate Bill 1159 was soon to be nicknamed the Revenge on the Voters bill. It was an obvious attempt to ensure no grass roots effort such as Prop 2 would ever be successful again. Even more disturbing was the information regarding who devised it…..a payday-loan lobbyist trying to protect the ability of the industry to reap large profits on the backs of poor Idahoans. Its purpose was simple and obvious to me: let’s make it near impossible to get an initiative on the ballot, and do our best to hide our motives and deceive our constituents.
I graduated from a public high school in Pittsburgh, PA in 1978. I was quite gifted academically and ultimately was able to graduate early from Union College in Schenectady, NY because I got AP credits in High School for English, European History, and American History. My education was solid, unbiased, and was focused on learning to think for myself. I studied, intensely, the works of James Madison, Friedrich Nietzsche, and George Orwell. I am very grateful for my education. It has helped me understand the dangers of government in general because, like all three of you, I truly understand the dangers of the government’s ability to manipulate the people. One of my best memories of meeting with you Representative Wisniewski, and you Senator Cheatham, was our ability to connect on our love of science and education. All three of the scholars mentioned above warned us about the dangers of allowing too much government power. Totalitarianism is our enemy. The best quote to describe my fear of Totalitarianism belongs to George Orwell. It is as follows: “A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.” At the moment I saw the results of your votes on these two bills, my education came back to my mind in a very powerful way. I know I am not alone in seeing the works of George Orwell in your actions. It is a recurrent theme in these blogs, seen by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
Because I have met all three of you, I want to emphasize that I know you are intelligent, caring people who share many of my values. We disagree on many issues, and agree on some. However, you are my representation on the State level. As such, I strongly suggest you re-evaluate your votes if and when this attempt to take away our constitutional rights comes up again. We the people of Idaho will hold you up to the true standards of Representative Government. Our constitution is clear about the ballot initiative. Raising the burden to make it extremely expensive and difficult takes that right away. It does not elevate rural voices. That statement is exactly what George Orwell warned about. And it hurts all of Idaho. I promise you, I, and those who agree with me, will do everything to stop this fundamental change to our civil rights. I owe it to my patients, family, coworkers, and community.
Cory Alexander, MD
Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Post Falls, ID