“'In any competition between the government and the private sector, 'the government's going to win,' he said, voicing his concern that the bill would initially result in the creation of a government-run health care system similar to those in Canada and many European countries, where care is rationed, resulting in waiting lists for services that are sometimes several months long. 'What's the rationale for rationing?' he asked, adding that as a Medicare recipient, he was worried that if he found himself in need of hip surgery in the future, he might not be able to receive immediate care, and would end up in a wheel chair.'”
Residents Grill Shea-Porter on Health Care Bill
November 18, 2009
What had originally been planned as a discussion of local infrastructure issues quickly turned into a referendum on healthcare reform, as Alton residents took U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter to task for her support of the healthcare bill recently passed by the House during her Nov. 13 meeting with the board of selectmen.
Selectman Dave Hussey asked why the U.S. government seemed to be "trying to build a house from the top down" by offering financial bail-outs to banks and auto-makers, rather than focusing on improvements to the nation's infrastructure (particularly the national grid, which he felt was in "bad shape"), and on job creation.
Resident Barbara Howard said she felt that the American public had been lied to repeatedly since President Barack Obama took office, and therefore had "no reason to believe you or the government on health care."
Pointing out that regardless of how much the federal government pays toward the increase in Medicaid, "it's all coming from us [taxpayers]," Howard noted that the state of Hawaii had nearly bankrupted itself in an effort to provide a government-run health care program.
If those who supported the bill truly intend to purge the system of fraud and corruption, she said, then efforts should be made to shut down welfare and other public assistance programs that have fallen victim to rampant abuse, and to deport illegal aliens that receive government assistance.
As someone who was recently laid off, and who had to significantly alter her lifestyle in order to retain an insurance plan that she could only make affordable by increasing her deductible to $10,000, Howard said she took great exception to the idea of federal tax dollars being used to provide insurance for people who could easily afford it, but choose to spend their money on luxury items such as new vehicles and flat-screen televisions instead.
From her perspective, she said, the reform bill as written would de-value the elderly, veterans, and the disabled, and is unconstitutional and immoral.
After discussing the bill with a number of fellow residents, she said she hadn't heard any positive feedback whatsoever.
Accusing Shea-Porter of living "in a cocoon," and acting with reckless disregard for the ramifications of her vote because she is covered under the Congressional insurance plan and won't be affected by them, Howard said she felt that the people had not been given a voice.
"Enough is enough," she said. "We need to be heard ... we need true reform."
Suggesting that the bill would, in fact, create the kind of two-tiered system that Shea-Porter voiced her opposition to, Earl Leighton said his construction company, which currently uses Blue Cross/Blue Shield as an insurance provider, would have to pay an additional $6,000 a year in premiums under the provisions of the reform bill.
"I think you're going to be very happy," Shea-Porter replied, explaining that the cost increases associated with the bill would be paid for, in part, by rolling back tax breaks for individuals earning more than $500,000 a year and couples with combined incomes of more than $1 million a year.
Leighton, however, objected to the idea of penalizing one segment of the population to pay for a bill that is supposed to benefit the country as a whole.
"I don't want to punish the wealthy," he said. "I want to be there someday."
While he believed health care reform was badly needed, resident Joe McCormack said he had doubts about the current reform bill.
In any competition between the government and the private sector, "the government's going to win," he said, voicing his concern that the bill would initially result in the creation of a government-run health care system similar to those in Canada and many European countries, where care is rationed, resulting in waiting lists for services that are sometimes several months long.
"What's the rationale for rationing?" he asked, adding that as a Medicare recipient, he was worried that if he found himself in need of hip surgery in the future, he might not be able to receive immediate care, and would end up in a wheel chair.
McCormack also raised doubts about the government's ability to combat fraud, noting that the rate of fraud within the U.S. government is currently at 20 percent, as opposed to three percent among private insurance companies.
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