This is a nice post to do today, when it seems like the debate over health care is starting to shift into the legislative endgame.
Rep. Joe Courtney held a telephone town hall on health care on August 24th. According to what Brian Farber, Deputy Chief of Staff/Communications Director for Rep. Courtney, said near the end of the call, about 3,500 residents listened in.
The questions, which were chosen by Courtney’s staff, reflect a wide range of strong concerns, and I think it led to a good discussion of some of the important issues surrounding health care reform. I wasn’t really sold on the idea of a telephone town hall at first, but the discussion that resulted here seems to suggest that maybe it works. It sounds much like a typical health care town hall, but without the grandstanding and charged emotional atmosphere. I like that.
Here’s a list of the questions (my paraphrases), which were asked by people from all over the district:
1. Is a public option a litmus test?
2. Why should people who don’t smoke, are obese or engage in unhealthy behaviors foot the bill for those who do?
3. How will we be able to continue Medicare coverage (it’s more complicated than that)?
4. The high cost of the bill. How can the bill be serious about containing costs without malpractice/tort reform?
5. Will illegal aliens be covered?
6. Is Medicare Advantage being abolished?
7. Fears over losing world-class facilities, and when will Congress fix broken programs for veterans and seniors? How can we insure a new set of people?
8. With more people having access to health care, who will provide it given a shortage of nurses and doctors?
9. Getting in debt and spending so much money makes the country unsafe. Government waste. Also, is there anything included I don’t want, will I have to pay for abortions?
10. You are awesome. Also, will there be caps on medical providers, to help contain costs?
11. Business and profit have no place in providing health care. What about removing the profit-driven aspect of the system?
Congressman Courtney gave what I thought were interesting and thorough answers for the most part. The questions themselves were certainly not softballs (except for possibly the last one), and Courtney was able to refer to specific sections of the bill currently under consideration to address many of the concerns expressed here. It seems like the major concern really was cost.
If you are interested in exploring some of the issues surrounding this huge debate, give the entire thing a listen. It’s just shy of an hour in length.