I attended the Town Hall Meeting that Second District Congressman Joe Courtney held at Montville High School tonight, September 2, 2009. Because of the length of the Town Hall Meeting and the over twenty questions asked, I am splitting the report into two or more posts, one tonight and the others throughout the day tomorrow.
On arrival an hour before the beginning of the Meeting there were two rows of demonstrators outside of the high school. One carrying signs in favor of Health Care Reform and the other Against Health Care Reform for various reasons (reading the signs). There was a long line in the hallway before the auditorium and it took twenty minutes to get into the hall. The Auditorium seats 500 persons and by the start of the Meeting at 6:30 PM, there were no empty seats. The Fire Marshal and Montville Constables insured there were no persons standing and no signs or posters in the hall. If a person left the auditorium, another person was let in to take their place so more than the five hundred initial folks attended some portion of the Town Hall. Congressman Courtney had some prepared flip charts in front but they were not readable in the back of the auditorium.
The Congressman got a strong round of applause and chants of “Joe, Joe, Joe” when he entered the room and was introduced by another Joe, the Mayor of Montville. Courtney had no opening statement except to thank the Mayor for the hospitality of the High School and immediately started with the questions. This Start would play into a question later about why the Town Hall Meeting did not start with the Pledge of Allegiance.
My intention is to paraphrase the question as if I was asking the question and then give the Congressman’s answer. Since not all questioners identified themselves, I will not identify the questioner.
1. Congress has its own retirement plan, Social Security is bankrupt, corruption is widespread, why do the Democrats think that anyone would trust the government to run a health care plan?
Some rumbling from the audience – Courtney – People opposed to health care are just as patriotic as those in favor. I don’t take the Congressional Health Plan because all Americans are not insured. I promised that when I was elected and I plan to keep that promise. Health Care is not a reality for all Americans and everyone should be able to get healthcare.
2. Why should there be a ‘Public Option’ to encourage competition when it was Congress that made competition in the health care system illegal?
Courtney – There are already ‘public options’ for health care. Tricare for the Active Duty Military, VA Health Care, and Medicare for the Seniors. In my previous Town Hall Meetings these groups are happy with their stable health care system benefits. Medicare is not perfect but no one would dare to repeal Medicare today.
3. The Constitution states that Congress should promote the “General Welfare.” Health Care is a fundamental right (some noise from the crowd). Congressman, is Health Care a Right or a Privilege?
Courtney – It is a Right (Loud grumbling from the crowd followed by applause – about equal grumbles and applause) No where in the Constitution does it say that the Military should get health care. Congress is to provide for the General Welfare and Health Care is part of that General Welfare.
4. I am an immigrant from England and I have experienced the waits and poor doctor service from the English National Health System. I feel that the opposition in Congress has been shut out from the drafting of the bill. the Public Option is an intrusion and, if passed, will ruin the best health care system in the world, (Some grumbling from the crowd and then some applause- Again about fifty fifty). Nothing in HR3200 improves the Health Care System. It costs a trillion dollars. Don’t rush. Use incremental, affordable steps to improve health care. Start with Tort Reform, then go to permitting across state lines plans. Why the rush to pass a bill. Work together and permit individual choice.
Courtney – I am a member of the Education and Health Committee. The bill we passed had many republican amendments. Republicans “don’t bite.” The system proposed by the bill is not like the National Health System of Great Britain because it starts with private insurance companies. The bill is not a single payer or a National Health System. If you look at the Table of Contents, there are three sections to the bill – A. Insurance Reform; B – Improving Medicaid and Medicare; C – Other reforms such as encouraging more medical students to become family practice physicians or pediatritions. In Section 162 for example, the Insurance Companies will not longer be able to practice recession – the cancelling of a policy after a person gets sick or injured.
5. I looked on line for Health Care plans available in Connecticut and found 72 choices, when I changed my zip code to Mass. there was only eight different plans, all from the same company that was both insurer and provider. The cheapest plan was $400 per month compared to $196 per month in Connecticut. How are you going to prevent the National Health Care plan from having the same results as in Mass. Will you vote for the plan even if the majority present here are against the plan (More cheers from the crowd – no corresponding grumbles this time).
Courtney – I know a 50 year old small business person in New London who has a preexisting and chronic illness. It costs him $2600 per month for insurance. With the National Exchange established by the HR3200 the cost of health care for this individual and others like him will decrease.
6. I am disappointed at all of the people that are sounding so negative. Health Care is a right. Where is the concern for the 47 million uninsured persons. Who can predict when they might be in the same situation. This problem is unknown in Europe. When is this country going to catch up with other countries.
Thats all for tonight. More to Come tomorrow.