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I am self-employed and pay $7,200 a year for health insurance and next year this will increase to more than $8,200. Am I supposed to now pay a fine because I have Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey's HMO plan? Are the folks in Congress out of their minds? Do they understand what plans are out there and how much they cost? Are they seriously going to penalize people who pay for their medical insurance? Can someone please explain to me how that makes any sense whatsoever?

It is typical of a Democrat-controlled Congress to stick it to the middle class and penalize people for doing the right thing and playing by the rules. John McCain's comment during the primaries last year was 100 percent correct: there will never be meaningful healthcare reform because the Democrats are in bed with the trial lawyers and the Republicans are in bed with the insurance companies. The insurance companies are raising their premiums every year and putting more and more people who are insured without the means to continue to be insured and they are denying coverage to tens if not hundreds of thousands of people unfairly; and thanks to the trial lawyers, gynecologists are either leaving the practice in droves or forced to move to other states where the cost of staying in business is not prohibitive. Other specialiaties in medicine are experiencing the same thing--the only choice physicians have is to move to another state or leave the practice of medicine.

Penalizing people who have excellent health plans is absolutely the worst possible thing to do. This does nothing whatsoever to stop the predatory practices of the insurance companies and trial attorneys who are destroying what was once the finest healthcare system in the world.

The problem is that the average Joe and Mary do not have anyone lobbying on their behalf, but the insurance companies, trial attorneys and pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars doing everything they can to prevent meaningful and real healthcare reform for the American people. It's time for Congress to stop penalizing those who work hard and play by the rules and to go after the real culprits who are bankrupting the system. Taxing those who want to have a decent healthcare plan is not going to do anything except harm those who have done no wrong. The average Congressmen and Senator are millionaires and have no clue whatsoever about the real world. Their world is all about staying in power and getting campaign contributions from special interest groups.

There will never, ever be real and effective reform until and unless our representatives concentrate all their activities and emphasis on one very special interest group--the American people.