Friday, August 28, 2009
Rep. Kevin McCarthy: health care town hall reaffirms my faith in our country
Rep. Kevin McCarthy offers his weekly view of the world. Have something to say? Support or in opposition? Post a comment. His week:
"This past Wednesday night’s town hall celebrated the great attention and care that our community takes in civic engagement and public policy discussions. I was proud to host a health care town hall at the Icardo Center and appreciated the 3,000 people that showed up in person to participate – that figure amounts to about one out of every 100 residents in the Bakersfield area taking time out of their busy schedules to engage in a discussion about the future of American health care. And that doesn’t count all the people that watched complete coverage of the event on KGET, KBAK, and KERO TV.
"After seventeen days of the House Democrat leadership trying to jam through health care reform legislation through the various House committees of jurisdiction, I heard from many of my constituents who called and emailed wondering what this bill was, and how it would affect their own health care. Earlier in August, I called over 100,000 households to participate in several tele-town halls and heard many questions from concerned neighbors about what they had heard was included in H.R. 3200 and their concerns, and sometimes outrage, over legislation that centralizes Washington’s role in the health care of millions of Americans. I have read and analyzed the bill, and my position on H.R. 3200 is clear – I oppose it and I will work hard to defeat this bill so we can pass better solutions and better ideas than a massive Washington spending bill that includes a government takeover of health care through a new “public” plan. Despite my opposition to H.R. 3200, I know that Congress works best when it listens to the people that it represents, and having a town hall allows me to listen to my constituents, and allows our neighbors to express their thoughts and concerns to their fellow neighbors in a public forum, leading to better policy results.
"At the town hall, over 1,300 people filled out health care surveys that contained multiple ideas to fix our health care system. It was democracy in action where we discussed ideas to create a better health care system. In September, I will take those ideas back to Congress. Despite being able to take many comments and questions during the two-hour town hall, with 3,000 people in attendance and hundreds wanting to ask questions, some were unable to ask their questions during the town hall, and I appreciated the patience of everyone who stayed after wards with me – and for some, two hours after the end of the event – so that I could hear everyone’s questions and comments.
"Anyone and everyone in our community were invited to come and participate, and people arrived with differing opinions – ranging from specific elements of the specific health care bill moving through Congress, how much the bill would cost Federal taxpayers and in premiums, why this particular bill was being rushed through the Congress so quickly, and whether there were better solutions. I know there are articles after-the-fact about what I should have said or should have allowed, but in the end, I believe that a town hall should allow our neighbors to discuss issues in an open and unfiltered manner. If people had questions and concerns about the bill, they have a right to express those concerns, and allow me and their fellow citizens to be aware of those concerns so everyone could analyze them further. That is something a town hall should foster, and based on some interviews after the event on the Bakersfield.com site, it seems that we did: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid28085363001?bclid=1527697173&bctid=35527291001.
"I agree with many of the town hall participants that health care is too expensive and that pre-existing conditions should be taken care of. I believe in the free-market and I don’t believe that a government takeover like the one proposed in H.R. 3200 is the answer. We can level the playing field and help bring down the costs.
"There is a better way than H.R. 3200. We need to control the costs of health care and make insurance more accessible and affordable. We can work together to fix health care, without passing the controversial public plan that could restrict health care choices for millions of Americans. One way we can save money (between $60 billion to $108 billion annually) is by limiting lawsuit abuse which leads to defensive medicine (over-testing because of liability fears). We can also provide smart tax incentives to low-income Americans who need assistance to purchase health care, but do not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
"We can also improve health care by empowering individuals and small businesses with more opportunities to purchase affordable health care they need, by further allowing small businesses to band together to increase group purchasing and allowing individuals to buy insurance across state lines or even through the Federal employee health program. We must also end the practice of insurers excluding people with pre-existing conditions by ensuring everyone can be issued health insurance, without regard to a person’s health status or gender.
"I hope that participants and TV viewers found the town hall to further the public discussion of H.R. 3200 and health care in America. This town hall was only the beginning of the journey to improve our health care system. We will continue the debate on better solutions, and insist"