Courtney Town Hall Part I

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.


8 responses to “Courtney Town Hall Part I

  1. THANK YOU for posting a summary of tonight’s event. I drove almost an hour tonight from Higganum to Oakdale only to find that this evening’s Town Hall event was “over capacity” at the High School, and as such – I was unable to attend this important event.

    According to one of the officers on-site, the auditorium holds a maximum of 519 people. I find it unconscionable that a Town Hall meeting of this importance was limited to only 519 attendees. If I’m not mistaken, there are almost 700,000 residents in the 2nd District.

    I’m also dumbfounded about why there wasn’t television, or at least radio, broadcast of this meeting.

    I’m thankful that I can read in your notes about the discussions that occurred, but I am for one a very disenfranchised voter.

    I implore Congressman Courtney to ensure better preparedness for future events.

    Thank you.

  2. 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.

    Say what?

    What the heck is a “right”? If my right forces other people to provide, is that really a right? I just don’t see education, food, shelter, or healthcare as rights, because someone needs to provide these things, and unless you somehow force this, it’s not going to happen. We may decide that these things are necessary for a government to provide, but they aren’t rights.

    Also, what’s with the remark about the military? Healthcare is provided for the same reason that private employers provide healthcare: it’s part of the compensation package. The constitution also doesn’t say that soldiers should be paid, or that they should receive housing, but they do. But that doesn’t mean that we should hand out checks to everyone or give everyone a house (but I fear I may be putting ideas into someone’s head).

    So if nationalized healthcare is part of the “general welfare”, why not nationalized food distribution, nationalized housing, or nationalized education?

  3. I was there as well – there were actually 24 comments /questions posed to Joe – 17 were in a form clearly against increasing government control and the “rush” to health care reform. # were hard to classify – more general questions – the remainder were pro government health care.

    Two other observations I would share here:

    (a) Courtney allowed partisan volunteers with Pro healthcare reform stickers to man his sign in table alongside his staff – when I questioned his Constituent Services Coordinater – Ellen Paul – she had NO problem with it – showing me at least that Ms. Paul had a tin ear and clearly had no problem representing Courtney as already having made up his mind – in other words – the 70% of people in that auditorium sharing their opinions that run counter to the current Democratic Socialist run at change – would be tolerated but not considered

    (b) I sat in front of several older women and they kept mumbling the whole time about it was time this country embraced socialism and stopped resisting the change – this was on the heels of a constituent who had emigrated from Germany standing up and telling Courtney and the audience how wonderful socialism and its healthcare system was in Germany, how she didn’t have to pay for anything out of pocket for healthcare in Germany and WHY can’t it be that way in this country

    – SO, if that doesn’t tell you what we are UP AGAINST in this era of “HOPE n CHANGE” ==> NOTHING WILL – –

    the SILENT MAJORITY are waking up from their long slumber –

    -To those who care – welcome back to the land of the living

    – I myself count myself among the reawakened – and have moved from MODERATE and no longer think Libertarians are crazy

  4. The writer John Leo once wrote, “We can’t even make a decent television in the US any more, but we invent new rights every day.” Lately, gay marriage became a “right,” though it is not in any Constitution. Now, health care is becoming a “right.” Has anyone read the Constitution?

    The rights are strictly enumerated and clearly drafted. Read it all you want, there is no “right” to health care. Period. One of the gravest problems we have, as governemnt gets bigger and bigger, is the shredding of the Constitution’s limitations on government spending and activity.

  5. GMR said:
    So if nationalized healthcare is part of the “general welfare”, why not nationalized food distribution, nationalized housing, or nationalized education?”

    Those are next.

  6. All Americans are guaranteed a public education through the age of sixteen. Though it is not federal, every child is guaranteed access to school. It is a right. Every American over the age of 65 is guaranteed health care from the federal government. It’s now a right. Would you like to eliminate that right for all seniors? Would you like to take away the guarantee for education for all American youth? You might, but precious few Americans will agree with you.

  7. Hook-boy, neither school nor Medicare is a right. Each has been legislatively endowed from the public purse, and could be taken away, in theory. A right is in the Constitution, not in the imagination.

  8. Vincent is correct. Medicare is a welfrare benefit for a class of citizens who were told if they paid a cerain “tax” every paycheck – they would have access to a stream of payments in the future to help them pay for healthcare when they retired – a healthcare retirenment account – to put it plainly

    The Constitution’s framers were deliberate in choosing the words “inalienable rights”. These were natural rights that no government could bestow or take away form any man ( extended from the philosphy of natural rights)

    More to the point: inalienable rights are said to be those rights that could not be surrendered by citizens to a sovereign or a government .

    Such rights were thought to be natural rights, independent of positive laws set forth by any particular government at any point in history to expediently meet that governments need to operate or invoke a particular ideology on their citizens.

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