Courtney Town Hall – Part IV

Here are the final questions from the Town Hall Meeting held by Second District Congressman Joe Courtney.

22. You haven’t taken my phone calls, your office has not responded to my questions so I came here in person. I am a small business owner. My standards are “profit and simplicity” (Loud cheers from audience). Looking at a 1016 page bill I find no simplicity. I can’t read it and understand it when it continually refers to “Section X, paragraph (3), line 52. This bill is too complicated. If you are so committed to health care, why not take one issue at a time so that issue is easily understood. Fight on my behalf, take one issue at a time, not full blown health care.
Courtney – I am on the Armed Services Committee and ship building is a big deal in my district. The Defense Bill is a ‘Hugh document” I wish you could put the U.S. Code changes on one page but the change has to refer to the previous law that is being changed. It is a tough challenge to the committee but the HR3200 bill will help small business by allowing them to join pools.

23. Health Care is only for those who can afford it. What safeguards exist to prevent companies from dropping health care coverage for employees when this bill becomes law?
Courtney – There are penalties for companies that “dump” employees. They will have to pay an additional tax. On the other hand, companies like Pitney Bowes that has a progressive welliness plan for employees are able to keep their plans unimpeded.

24. I don’t understand why people are against profit. This bill does not include any tort reform. I did not go to work for anyone but self and family.
Courtney – The bill is based on an employer based health care system. The focus of Section A is on this aspect of the health care system. Regarding tort reform, the Congressional Budget Office study shows that tort reform does not save money for the Health Care System. Expenses are the same or greater in states like Texas, who has strict tort caps, as in other states, without these caps. (Audience booing and shouting during this answer).

25. Will there be mental health parity in this bill?
Courtney – This is a key part of the bill. Mental Health parity was signed into law by President Bush about two years ago and this bill preserves that aspect of costs.

26. Why does the health care have to be government controlled? Medicine is personal. We may need reform but we don’t need government control.
Courtney – Right now the Insurance Companies have panels to approve your coverage. There are different forms for different companies. This is a great burden on doctors, hospitals, and other providers. The bill will establish a standard form. This, in its self, will keep costs down.

27. There are other studies that show tort reform will provide significant savings. There should be tort reform.
Courtney – no comment since time was running out.

28. Insurance companies don’t deny care. (Loud sounds of disagreement with this statement). All you have to do is go to the hospital and get the service and then pay for it your self. The bill will ration care and deny care unlike the current situation.
Courtney – There is no rationing in the bill. There are no “death panels” in the bill. There is no requirement to take action at end of life, the bill merely pays the doctor for his time when this discussion occurs. Currently, the discussion occurs, but the doctor does not get paid.

This was the last question. I found out later that Congressman Courtney then went to the high school cafeteria and talked with another group of people who were not able to get into the auditorium. This meeting lasted around forty minutes. According to a remark in the comment section of the New London DAY on line article, this session was not as volatile as the auditorium and everyone asked and answered questions politely.

Despite some comments attached to both the DAY and the NORWICH BULLETIN Articles, I believe that the crowd was evenly divided in the auditorium. After the meeting, one person commented that she thought the anti health care reform persons were rude and disrespectful but I thought the meeting was fairly tame when compared to some of the meetings seen on TV.

I hope the reader found these four posts useful in understanding the Health Care reform proposal.l


8 responses to “Courtney Town Hall – Part IV

  1. from the First Post on this issue…
    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.

    Courtney and others that believe the Constitution says this are completely wrong..
    Let’s go to the founding Fathers who helped write the Declaration and Constitution…

    “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
    –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Albert Gallatin, 1817

    James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, elaborated upon this limitation in a letter to James Robertson:
    With respect to the two words “general welfare,” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. If the words obtained so readily a place in the “Articles of Confederation,” and received so little notice in their admission into the present Constitution, and retained for so long a time a silent place in both, the fairest explanation is, that the words, in the alternative of meaning nothing or meaning everything, had the former meaning taken for granted.”

    Mr. Courney, please get one of your $150,000.00 per year un-elected staffers to read you the Constitution.

  2. Credit must go to Walter E. Williams, who’s site provided the above quotes…

  3. lamontcranston

    Hey Nuke,

    Do you participate in any of Congressman Courtney’s phone town hall meetings? If you did, how were those?

  4. Lamont – I participated in the AARP Sponsored telephone town hall. It lasted an hour and about ten questions were asked and answered. The questions focused on the impact on seniors and, obviously, was very cordial since there was no audience reaction to questions or answers. There were no surprises.

  5. A couple of points:

    1. I was the questioner referred to in #15 (in Part III). What I actually said was that the ~500 in the auditorium represented less than a single voting precinct within any of the 65 towns in Joe’s district. My point was not that he should ignore anyone’s opinion (even the manifestly crazy ones); I only meant that he should not think — as several had asked him to do by that time — that which half of that tiny audience could (or was willing to) shout louder had anything to do with what the people of his district want. We have a representative form of government; it’s not government by who shouts loudest.

    2. Nuc, while you might be right to say that this meeting was “tame” compared to others like it around the country, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t rude and disrespectful. What I heard not only from the questioners but from the people sitting around me and the people shouting other people down was more than just rude and disrespectful: It was combative, ill-informed, and dangerously paranoic. And Joe Courtney has done NOTHING to deserve having people chant “Liar! Liar!” at him.

    If it weren’t for Joe’s example in dealing with it so graciously, I would’ve left that meeting deeply concerned about the wellbeing of our democracy.

    3. Bluecoat 2, there was no unanimity even among the Founders at the time over how to interpret the founding documents; cherrypicking a couple quotations, no matter how revered the person quoted, can’t wipe away 220 years of the Constitution’s history. As for “$150,000 per year un-elected staffers,” as it happens, congressional staffer salaries are public information, and you can check what Joe’s staff makes yourself:

    As I read the numbers, only his most senior “staffer” — actually his Chief of Staff — makes anything close to $150,000 ($147k and change in FY2008, the most recent full year for which data is available); only two or three other very senior staffers make more than $50k. Considering the value of the work they do and the cost of living in DC, these people are a bargain to the taxpayers, and hardly deserving of your casual slagging.

  6. dauphinb – It might be a generalization, but the folks that watch Fox News, listen to Rush Limbaugh, etc. here their selective version of the News. They believe that NPR, CNN, and the Networks are Liberal biased (I leave out MSNBC because it really is liberal biased in the evenings. ‘Morning Joe’ is conservative but reasonably open minded). Those of us that listen to NPR, watch CNN and the Networks get a different version of the news which we think is more balanced. I don’t know how we are going to bridge that divide. President Obama campaigned on being the post racial president who would bring bipartisanship back to government. Instead, the right wing fringe seems to have taken over the Republican party and is not willing to listen to reason or compromise. It is a shame that the Health Care Bill will be a Democratic product since the other side, for the most part, is not interested in finding the middle (That is where the Blue Dog DEMS reside so they will probably play the role of the “otherside’ in the Congressional debate to come.
    I agree that many folks were rude and not willing to listen to Congressman Courtney but order was maintained and questions, for and against, were asked and answered, so it was better than some we have seen on the Tube.

  7. >>As I read the numbers, only his most senior “staffer” — actually his Chief of Staff — makes anything close to $150,000 ($147k and change in FY2008, the most recent full year for which data is available)

    His staffer Jason J. enjoys the highest Gross pay of any Congressional staffer in the CT delegation.

    I’m sure he’s very special.

  8. ACR: He’s the chief of staff for a member of the U.S. Congress, fer Jebus’ sake. $150k is a nice salary, but nothing exceptional: In the private sector, anyone with the same level of responsibility would make significantly more. Plus which, as you yourself hint at in your blog piece, many of the people who eventually get these jobs have “made their bones” by toiling for years for little or no pay.

    Bluecoat 2’s phraseology implied that every intern and legislative aid was pulling down six figures, but the facts are that the single most senior member of the staff falls just short (by the last full FY’s numbers) of the mark Bluecoat mentioned, and the next highest paid staffer makes little more than half that much. I don’t know Jason personally, but it’s hard to argue that his position doesn’t deserve the pay he gets. I do know some of Joe’s other staffers personally, from my time as a campaign volunteer, and every one of them is making a sacrifice in terms of pay compared to what he or she could command in the private sector… in every case because they believe in what Joe’s trying to accomplish.

    Two questions:
    1. Do Republicans not believe people should be paid for their labor, and commensurately with the value of their work?

    2. Are Republicans finally so cynical that it’s impossible for them to believe people do what they do out of a sense of commitment to an ideal.

    There are things we can disagree on, and legitimate ideological differences we could argue over. But picking on a guy’s relatively moderate salary just because the guy he works for has a D next to his name is bush league.

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