Monday night, August 24, my daughter and I drove to Florence to attend another Town Hall Meeting with our Representative, Parker Griffith. We had attended his Town Hall Meeting in July in Huntsville and were anxious to see if his stance had changed on anything. We had hoped to arrive much earlier than we did, especially after having missed out on getting into Senator Sessions' Town Hall Meeting a couple of weeks ago because of the size of the crowd (and the inadequate size of that facility). Parker Griffith's words, as best as I could record them that evening, are in bold below and my thoughts are italicized.
I have also underlined some of the key points.
Kudos to Congressman Griffith and/or his staff for choosing a large enough facility to hold this event, and for the three microphones which were placed in easy to get to areas of the auditorium. The auditorium at UNA is big enough to hold over 1600 people, so even though it looked like 1300 or so turned out, there was plenty of room for all of us! Promptly at 6:00 p.m. it started, with a brief invocation, which included the request that the Lord grant us "a productive meeting" here tonight. The invocation was followed by applause from much of the audience.
Then Griffith was introduced; he began with an introduction of his own: "First of all, I appreciate so much…the number of people here…this is truly what America is all about and needs to get back to…we need to have such meetings in the future about education and illegal immigration…" From there he launched into a story about one of his patients (Patsy) from his days as a doctor. Of course, the story was being used to indicate to us that something needs to be done to our Health Care system: "Had she had insurance…and I seen her earlier…she would have had a 95% cure rate…saw Patsy late…spent over 1 million dollars….that's why we're here." I don't want to take away from the tragedy of that situation, and I hate to be disagreeable so early on, but no, I don't believe that's why most of us were there that night!
Griffith continued, "…Judeo-Christian ethic wants to make us do better…one of the best Health Care systems in the world – if you can access it…we are doing something right in our Health Care system, but we want everyone to be able to benefit from it."
Again, I have to disagree with the Congressman. The Judeo-Christian ethic is what makes US want to do the best we can – but we are not asking that of our government! As Dr Lappert pointed out in his talk last week, hospitals as we know them were started by Christians. Charity is to be a work of individual people, not something done by the government.
From there, Griffith started talking about the specific bill that is currently working its way through Congress. So far, the bill has been voted out of committee, but not onto the floor. Griffith assured us that he is opposed to the current bill – Waxman's bill. (Yes, that would be the same Congressman Waxman who recently co-authored the Cap and Trade bill, and who is almost single handedly keeping last year's toxic bill, CPSIA, from being fixed!) Waxman's bill started at 875 pages, and has already grown to 1017 pages, and weighs 40 lbs. At that point he held up his copy of the bill. (I don't think anyone asked him during the evening if he had read.) He continued, "We are discussing this at the right time – we don't want to have the same thing happen as the Cap and Trade…hoping and praying the Senate will shelf or gut." (Major applause at that point.)
Parker Griffith pointed out that he is vice-Chair of the Blue Dogs Health Care Committee. (Blue Dogs came up many times in the next 4 hours….) He also pointed out that there are several bad parts of Waxman's bill – including that it includes a federally sponsored Insurance company (commonly called the "public option"). At this point there were a couple of shouts of "yeah" and lots of boos. There is also a proposal on the table to do a public – or insurance – exchange – all wanting to sell would have to put their proposals in – with the federal government's proposals. (The audience reacted negatively at this point, and Griffith had to wait to speak again.) The difference is that the public one would be based on a similar idea to Medicare, which is financially unstable at this point. Several people in the audience got very rude here, and probably should have been excused from the auditorium. Griffith continued, the proposal is to remove money from Medicare to support the new public option (many boos) – Not a good idea. (applause)
The discussions continue about where to get billions and billions of money from – money from "Medicare savings", but would put Medicare further at risk, not a good solution. (An audience member yelled out, "been borrowing from for 40 years") So then Griffith told us, "Here's what I want to do. It is a fact that there are 4.6 million in Alabama, 1 million are on Medicare, 700,000 are on Medicaid (and yet later he would tell us how difficult it is for people to get on Medicaid), and 600,000 have no Health Care Insurance. At this point, I was still waiting for what exactly he was proposing we should do, but he finally got to his "suggestions": All insurance companies have to compete across state lines (much applause); no "pre-existing" refusals; small business be able to bid together; Health Care Insurance companies will not be allowed to "overrate for age". These should be the conditions to sell insurance in the U.S. Additionally, we need Tort Reform which is not in this bill (much applause at this comment).
Currently there is a doctor, patient, and a lawyer in every examining room and emergency room…It's not the amount of money in the suits, but the existence of the threat at all…He has to protect himself from suits…extra tests, etc. (more major applause).
Griffith said he asked Congressman Waxman,
why isn't there Tort Reform in this bill? Waxman's response: "Not time to talk about it." (Guess we can only wonder whether he needed more than 1,000 pages…or more than a few months…or…?) What else isn't in this bill? No increase in nurses/doctors in more than two decades, and the shortage of doctors isn't addressed…Less than 2% of medical students going into Primary Care…47 million Americans are uninsured – 10 million are under 19 and 20 million are under 40, not hard for us to insure. (I had to ask myself, on what does he base that claim?) Griffith than claimed that Medicaid in Alabama is the most restrictive in the U.S., we could liberalize Medicaid and cover more of the above. (And how would we pay for this small miracle?)
Additionally, the VA needs to be more liberal with care and take care of more Vets. (My husband, father, and father-in-law are all Vets, so I'm all for that in principle, but again, who pays how much for this?)
Griffith told us that the current Health Care bill contains many, many pages that are fine. (I've apparently missed those pages when I've read through the bill…I haven't seen ANYTHING that looked good to me!)
Appreciate folks who want Public Option, even though I'm against it, that's why we're Americans…I will do what I think is best for my constituents…We are in a very trying time…easy to knee jerk…I will take on the leadership of my party, the other party, the executive branch, to protect this district…
By this time dozens of people had lined up at the three microphones to ask Congressman their "brief" questions:
- "Remind you that government should never be in the place of competing with Private Enterprise." (applause) Where do you stand on COLA adjustments going down for Social Security and Medicare?" Griffith: "Sorry about that…little Congress can do…will get worse if this bill passes." (Congress can't prevent COLA Adjustments? They make sure they get their own adjustments!) Questioner: "Before you pass the final bill, give us the chance to read it!" (Should have added, and be sure to read it yourselves!)
- "Like Public Option…My daughter aged out of my insurance in high school…in college used infirmaries…sick over the summer…Mom's doctor wouldn't see her. What in your plan will take care of that?" Griffith: "Final bill we write, your daughter will be covered…our 5 children became uninsured when they finished school…let them stay on parents' insurance longer." (I have to wonder at where all this money is supposed to come from when liberals come up with this type of stuff…)
- "…an opponent to Public Option…Christian…6-year-old diabetic grandchild, 6 month wait could prove fatal to her…want system that won't create long waiting lines and care that doesn't leave out elderly." (applause) Griffith: "Thank you."
(Yes, that was his entire answer to this "question".)
- "What bill would cover questioner number 2's concern…What would your bill do to lower my insurance rates for employees?" Griffith: No bill yet…No amendments offered to #3200 yet.
- "1978…wife Margaret with breast cancer given about 6 months to live…state of the art Health Care under Blue Cross…$750,000 bill over 10 years…she lived 10 years, not 6 months…What we have is better than we realize…We have a Mercedes with a bad transmission, and the President wants to put us in a Hugo, I want to fix the transmission." (applause and standing ovation at this point in his speaking) "Will future Margarets die under care like Canada and England?" Griffith: "We have to be careful..can't take away from what we have…have to improve access for 47 million."
- "Retired medical technician…used to be $3 for throat culture…until insurance started paying $12 for throat culture…all prices raised…bottom line is money…Try to get those people to understand you can't spend money you don't got!" (more applause) No answer from Griffith.
- Woman with AARP: "What do you see as some of the most misunderstood and divisive portions of this bill?" Griffith: (a) "Comparative effectiveness" – originally to compare 1 treatment with another…Danger in bill like this to put things like that in law…used as standards for treatments…takes decision away from Physicians. (b) "End of life care counseling" scaring our elderly unnecessarily. At that point it wasn't clear to me whether he was saying that we were overreacting to the "end of life counseling", or whether it shouldn't be in the bill…. Then Griffith continued: If Physician gets graded on amount of end of life counseling…Needs to be taken out of bill…not a government responsibility.
(applause) – Look at that, Griffith and I agreed on something! "Hospice happened without the government…Polio Vaccine happened without the government, without one federal dollar…Less government in Health Care the better off we'll be. And for that he got a standing ovation – it's a shame that some of us have trouble taking him at his word on this – maybe it has to do with all the other things he's been saying about Health Care!?!
- An Anesthesiologist spoke next: "Thanks to the Blue Dogs for getting this delayed until after recess so we can have Town Halls like this. Individual Responsibility and Lifestyle choices have to be addressed…" I always get a little agitated when I hear people talking about individual responsibility and lifestyle choices in this context – is he suggesting the government needs to address those issues?!? No thanks! Griffith liked that topic: 2,000 deaths/year in Alabama from various cancers --- and 3,000 deaths/year from smoking-related diseases alone…Lifestyle issues leading to Diabetes…no bill can fix that… Well, then please don't try!
- My friend's husband, Chad, spoke next, bringing up the "Empowering Patients First Bill" by Dr. Price, and asked about making Health Savings Accounts simpler. Griffith: "Dr. Price…good bill, not much support for…Health Savings Accounts are good – if you have a job. I think that was one of the most obnoxious things I heard Congressman Griffith say all night! Chad continued: "…Lawyers/Hospitals can do Pro Bono as tax write off, but not Doctors…" No response from Mr. Griffith on that last idea.
- The next person was someone I recognized from last week's talk at the Liberty House. He made three points: Alabama rates second to last in using Nurse Practioners; 37% of budget goes to Health Care (in Europe 50% of budget goes to Health Care; do not support illegals receiving Health Care benefits…thousands of illegals registered to vote in Alabama (Alabama hindered by federal government for fixing that). Griffith responded that Emergency Rooms are overrun by illegals. (Is that a fact, or just a "truism" everyone likes to throw out there? I would love to see the stats on that.) Griffith got into a story about a friend being rear-ended by an unlicensed illegal…Until federal government has backbone to shut that border down…(He was cut off by cheers and applause)…Plenty of blame to go around – R's and D's in power – not dealing with… The questioner then mentioned that Parker Griffith should talk to Dr. Lappert – who has some great ideas.
- "Nine trillion dollar debt we have…federal government has stolen everything I've made and my children will make…didn't just start…going on for decades…Do you support term limits?" Griffith: Absolutely – that's an easy one…more important than term limits – have to stop begin disinterested in our government…have to stop losing our children…
- Older woman: "My concerns with Public Option: Lack of choice/rationing…husband using VA services…happy at first…chest pains…nitrate pills…went to another doctor through private insurance – ended up in Huntsville Hospital with 80-90% blockage in arteries…" Griffith: Great concern…danger in a system and we hear a lot about cost…many things Americans spend on that are much less important than Health Care (this was another one of the most obnoxious things Congressman Griffith said – so the Federal Government can tell us that we need to spend more of our money on Health Care?!?)…don't want to see that type of care marginalized by this bill…Why we're here…" No, sir, that is not why we are here – we want to make sure you understand that we don't like this bill!
- Respect to have Town Hall Meetings and hear all sides…bill up there doesn't need to be modified, doesn't need to be tweaked, it needs to be trashed. (Standing applause from audience) Portability – why can't we do that now? Griffith: State law. Her: "So it's a government-created problem."
- One of my favorite questions: Where do you find authority in the U.S. Constitution for the Federal Government to get involved in Health Care?" Griffith: "That's the second time you've asked me that…" Older gentleman: "Still no straight answer." Griffith: In our Congress, 1965, we decided to develop Medicare. Gentleman: "No better case." Then Griffith went on about Medicare increasing life expectancy since 1965. (Interesting claim, Congressman, it's a shame most of us aren't buying it!) Then Griffith made annoying remark #3 – Not a constitutional scholar…rabbit trail with you. Excuse me, Congressman, you don't have to be a constitutional scholar, you just have to read it and believe it! And it is not a rabbit trail!
- "I do support a public option…no doubt would lower costs of Health Care. (Audience was a little rude here...booing him)…Poor college student… Griffith: Massachusetts is proving Public Option not working. (applause)
- "Working for Pharmacy Call Center…83-year-old woman, her insurance would cost her $800…you are a blue dog…will you support closing the gap in Medicare…?" Griffith: Absolutely.
- Next we heard from a 13-year-old: "I do not want nationalized Health Care – neither do many of my friends…if you get nationalized Health Care, and its being rationed, still telling her to die, happens in nations like Canada and England. (applause) Not much Griffith could say at this point, so he didn't say anything.
- "Member of Labor – you promised would be an advocate for Labor…also said would be advocate for health reform…would do everything you could to get Health Care for everyone in the country (booing in the audience…which part were they booing?)…You have not voted for one thing for Labor in D.C….In 2001, U.S. down because of deregulation…This Economy is turning around, even though you didn't vote for Stimulus. Griffith: No, I didn't (at this point the audience was getting pretty riled up). Labor guy: "Are you Democrat or Republican?" Griffith: I'm a good Democrat.
- We finally moved on: "Member of NRA" (applause) …Broke college student…but opposed to Public Option…News…a lot of ruckus about Democrats in Congress pushing bill through in spite of concerns.
Griffith: With a technique called reconciliation…Obama will be a one-term president…we are a polarized nation and can't afford to get more… Then Griffith said something about what stimulus will do… (I missed most of the answer, but there was lots of applause.)
- "Esther (Old Testament)…there at the proper time…surprise to me, but the Blue Dogs may be there at right time…Waxman typical of politicians in D.C….salespeople… 'gotta be done now'…We're not ignorant...we know way socialized medicine care goes..these salesmen are the reason bill weighs 40 pounds…thank you it has not been voted on yet…if Blue Dogs will go back to D.C. and hold a bonfire on the mall and burn every one of them you would do our children and grandchildren a great favor…We don't have enough doctors and Health Care people going through our system…what's to encourage them when looking at a bureaucrat deciding what they can make…constitutional authority…but when it comes down to reality…very dangerous thoughts to us." No answer from Griffith, though I'm not really sure what he could have said at that point…
- The next question was very off topic – about Congress declaring war, not what happened in Korea, Viet Nam…Moving right along…
- Good questions: "…correct earlier person…People who made mess of mortgages were Barney Frank and Chris Dodd…Constitution…Declaration…government is based on consent of government…" Griffith: "…We the people have got to make our voices heard."
I'm sorry, when I hear that from a Democrat, I have to shake my head. No, Congressman Griffith, WE the people, have to have OUR voices heard…" Back to questioner: "Retired for 22 years…How do we as individuals make those idiots in Congress show us what they are doing and do what we want?" Griffith: "Doing it right here…the more hollering the better…Need to do more often."
Implication being that he is listening to us? Time will tell!
- "…Moved here from California…Type 1 Diabetes is NOT based on lifestyle…need to figure out way to cap insurance profits…if can afford premiums can't afford co-pays…Health Care costs up because Clinton's bill requiring all facilities taking Medicare money must take all who show up wanting/needing care…" While I think this questioner made some good points about Medicare, I'm still not so sure that insurance companies are raking in outrageous profits…No response from Griffith (but I don't think a question was really asked.)
- "Not from this district (originally from New Jersey)…Great tax system here in Alabama…(we're trying to figure out what his point is…) …More like medical control…end of life – don't like direction that is; don't like taxpayers paying for abortions a moral issue there); other problem we have…Federal Reserve…" (Audience started yelling, "Ask him a question."…He finally stepped down without having asked a question.)
- "How do we keep abortions out – since every attempt to exclude abortions has been shut down?" Griffith: Co-sponsored bill that would exclude abortions…promise not to vote for ANY bill that does not EXCLUDE abortion…lost some votes here, gained some.
- College student at UNA: "Why do you associate yourself with leadership of your party like Pelosi and Obama?…we have reached a tipping point." It looked like he turned to an audience member at this point, and said, "Sir, you are in a minority in this building today". Back to question to Griffith, "Will you stand firm in our principles, or will you fold to pressure of Democrats?" Griffith: "Practically speaking, Conservatives couldn't have stopped this bill, don't have vote…Someone asked me earlier whether I'm a Democrat or a Republican, I'm an American…What we have watched for last two decades, enough blame to go around…we need to change our attitudes and stop stereotyping people…worrying about jobs…"
My question for the Congressman at this point would have been, if you are worried about jobs, why are you willing to sacrifice the Economy for the sake of any type of Health Care "fixes"?
- From Huntsville: "Cap and trade – sitting on a shelf – and you hope and pray it stays there. I hope and pray you are doing more than hoping and praying…You're saying all the right things…but you seem to be divorcing yourself from fact that your party is ramming this through…Need more than good words…You need to fight your leadership…biggest bait and switch ever, will create the biggest bureaucratic takeover of Health Care, all will be set by standards of BOARD appointed by President…willing to go and fight your party, haven't seen that." Griffith: Have you seen my voting records? Her: "Safe votes because party had votes without you…we need you to go and fight, not just vote NO! Take the leadership down and stop this insanity!" Griffith: Nancy Pelosi promised vote on floor before August Recess – Blue Dogs told her it would fail if she did.
- I missed the next question, it was something about Medicare. Griffith: 435 Congressman – a lot of competing views on Medicare.
- Next speaker started by commending the 13-year-old for speaking. "…Against the Public Option…Brother-in-law dentist with health issues, insurance because of wife's job…would get pushed aside under this bill…260 million Americans DO HAVE insurance!...Those vets didn't fight for socialized principles, they fought for democratic principles." Griffith: Very opposed to Waxman's bill…but believe that we as Americans want to preserve our Health Care while keeping what's good about it!...we don't want a bureaucrat even thinking he is in a position to make those decisions.
How does he think we can possibly keep what's good with our Health Care and do even a portion of what ANY of the Democrats are proposing to do?!?
- "Some Congressmen won't face constituents at Town Halls, but willing to send our boys to harm's way..Have seen where Obama has said (in past) he was FOR single payor nationalized system….House Bill backway path to socialized Health Care…we will lose all control if makes it to Conference Committee between House and Senate. My question, why are things happening so fast? …Why does it have to be done in such a short period of time? (members of audience getting rude…) Griffith: We're losing some audience here. Questioner kept going, without saying much. There was applause when he finally stopped, and Griffith didn't even try to answer. Not much he could have said at that point.
- "…you made me proud I voted for you…Obama said, 'If you like your doctor and your insurance you can keep it." Griffith: Mistake to think if Waxman bill passes, will be able to keep… Questioner: "How much do doctors have to pay in malpractice premiums?" Griffith: $50,000 - $300,00/year or more…When I'm sued by a patient, my house, everything I own, goes on the line…not how many suits, only takes one for hospitals and Doctors to practice defensive medicine…Told Waxman had to have Tort Reform, ignored me. Questioner: "Pelosi might not let you back in chambers if she hears what you said here tonight." Griffith: …I'll have a gift certificate to a mental institute for her…
- Long drawn out story with the next person…Audience getting tired, taking too long to get to question: "How many would have to be in Co-op to work?" Griffith: Don't think state co-op would work, would have to be a regional. Questioner: "Trying to get insurance in Tennessee, joined affiliation of contractors to get better rates, no significant difference in costs, with 600,000 members. Why couldn't get better discount?" Griffith: You're asking me? I have no idea. Questioner: Paying 10% in insurance, raise my taxes 9% with Single Payor, and I'll still be better off." Griffith: If could get seen! He got it better than she did! Griffith continued: Cannot reform a system around a shortage…have to reform system fundamentally, not just an insurance question…If you had a pure Medicare hospital it would close… (She still thinks Single Payor will be better!) Griffith: It won't feed the bull dog, it won't pay the bill. (audience is getting rude again; getting restless) But I still don't see how anything being proposed will accomplish Griffith's grand goals!
- "If we got the government option, it would be subject to change at any time." Griffith: If we enact Health Care reform in a partisan way, it will be reversed in the next four years...too important to be decided along partisan lines. (We might add that it's too important to have the government deciding!)
- "…Need more people in D.C. like you…since both parties suck…Adding 47 million to Health Care without adding more doctors – rationing will become a reality.
- 36-year-old single mom: "How long will this arguing take…What is it going to take? What can we do to help hear other's… Griffith: You are exactly what we need… (Audience member yelled, "Give her a job.")
- Now, we're all getting emotional: "Not what will happen to my care, but what will happen to her." (Audience members telling him to go help her himself…) "One question, will you work as hard for her as for cheerleaders here?" So now, we've been relegated to the status of "cheerleaders"! Griffith responded with another non-answer: Need to see our children early and our ill early!
- Minister: "For the public option…Vietnam Vet…fought for black folks to have same rights as white folks…One daughter in college, went to Emergency Room, charge $1560…Ask these people what planet you live on? … When you Blue Dogs going to get behind a winner like Barack Obama? (boos from the audience) My question is: "When are you going to read the bill and stop listening to Rush Limbaugh?" Griffith didn't answer.
- "My husband and I both voted for you." Then she asked the audience, "How many of you have read the bill? Many hands, including mine, went up. "Got to fix the problems…Pre-existing has been a monster for years…bill deals with it….Illegals…what about companies who knowingly hire illegals? Griffith: Stimulus bill took out the E-Verify system. Her: "Why can't you guys look at the bill and see what we can agree on?" Griffith: This bill weighs 40 pounds. It was completed on Thursday, they wanted to bring it to the floor on Friday – we blocked it from coming to the floor without ANYONE reading it…A government that can give it to you can take it away!
- Christie: "I want to correct one thing about Blue Dogs, didn't stop the bill – just slowed down. If had all stuck together, wouldn't have come out of committee." Griffith: We wanted the American people to see the bill.
Christie: "Pelosi one of the front runners of this bill, would you vote again for her as Speaker of the House?" Griffith: No (audience member yelled: "Best thing you said tonight…she needs to go home.") Griffith continued: Someone that divisive cannot bring people together.
- "We have a lot more in common than I would have realized…Do you feel the most significant thing in Health Care is cost?" Griffith: It's access.
That is a common theme we hear from Griffith – that the biggest Health Care problem is access, not cost. And yet, only real complaints we're hearing from people is the cost! He tried again: If costs were reduced significantly, would take care of some of the issues. Griffith: We need more providers. Questioner: "How do we get those?" Griffith: Medial School in North Alabama…System trying to change here didn't grow out of a mandate from government…as plans grew, became more and more expensive…companies becoming international, without loyalty to American workers… Questioner: "…eliminate tax incentives for employers paying for Insurance so employees can get own insurance…We need you to fight for us…Pharmaceuticals gauging us… (Why is it so often assumed that because the price of something is so high, that it is because we are being gauged?!?) Griffith: Big pharmaceuticals made deal with President…no competitive bids. (If that's true, there the government goes, interfering with the Free Market again.)
- "…carry on to next generations…(hard to hear this gentleman, and he was having trouble getting to his question) …Social Security…cover most of your Health Care." (I had no idea what he was saying, and I don't think the Congressman did either…We finally moved on)
- From Huntsville area: "Very opposed to any government insurance…have read most of the bill…What can we do to help you keep this bill from passing?" Griffith demonstrated how his voting card works and then said:
What I can do for you is listen to you…people in our Congress that don't think like we do…something fundamentally flawed as that…not against reform our Health Care system…not way to do it.
- "You say availability is biggest issue…I agree with others that cost are biggest issue…big difference between taxation and charity – an act of free will – want everyone including YOU to understand the difference (applause)…with other reforms put in place don't need government to subsidize doctor's education. Griffith: Existing schools… Questioner doesn't earn himself any brownie points at this point: "I'm against government education." Griffith: Greatness of America has come out of Public Education (Personally I think that's as big a stretch as crediting Medicare with our increased life spans...)Then the questioner really goes over the edge: "This is the Constitution. You said this is a theoretical document. (Checking notes from first 42 questions/comments and answers, don't see that comment anywhere!) Griffith: I didn't say that. Then they get in a nasty fight about public education and I stopped listening (thankful that the questioner never mentioned homeschooling in his arguments!)
- Business owner in Huntsville: "Lady from AARP had asked about misconceptions about this bill…misconception is that this can be free or affordable…a bill that forces transparency in insurance companies…and some type of cap on costs." (I guess he was saying that was what we needed a bill to do?!?) Griffith:
A scarcity…increase supply, reduce costs. (So the earlier fight over scarcity versus costs boils down to both – if we increase supply, the costs will go down, and there will no longer be a shortage…but government intervention will decrease supply and increase costs!) Griffith: Agree that Pharmaceuticals are out of control…only country in the world that allows them to push drugs on TV.
(So pass a law forbidding that and be done with it!)
- Linda: "It's been said that the President, Senators, Congress have insurance that will not be effected by this bill, is that true? Griffith: Introduced a resolution that would require Congress to be on the same Health Care plan. Linda: "What doesn't Congress understand about 'No'? Get your hands out of my pocket and your nose out of my business!"
- "You have people in need…people don't mind helping people in need, mind being taken advantage of…" Griffith: No system someone won't try to take advantage of…people in financial world taking advantage of the system… Questioner: "Difference when people buying dog food with food stamps…. Griffith: We can cure diseases today that we couldn't dream of curing 25 years ago…lifestyle choices…we decided as a country to fix best Health Care system in world.
Excuse me, Congressman Griffith, Mrs. Difficult here again to argue with you – No, WE didn't decide that! Absolutely not! Some of the more liberal minded folks in D.C. decided that – it is not the will of most of the people!!! Questioner: "Take a message back to DC. About the Health Care plan… (I missed the message somehow…) Griffith: I didn't take the Government Health Care option, paying for my own.
- "Vietnam Vet, been on Medicare and on Blue Cross/Blue Shield…How are we going to defeat that bill…We need to take the U.S. back."
- "Earlier you equated Medicare with increase life expectancy; don't believe one has anything to do with the other." Griffith: We have people living today…that would never have lived…if we hadn't accessed system… (Oh yes, clearly because of Medicare! AARGH!) Questioner: "…bill that's a complete overall of Health Care in U.S. and I'm just trying to figure out why…go about it slowly, one issue at a time…give our Congress time to figure out where money is going to come from." Griffith: That's why we slowed it down…One of things we can do is require any new drug on market be cheaper and more effective… Okay, let me see if I have this straight, Congress will declare that only new drugs can be developed that are cheaper AND work better…Yeah, just like they declared that bicycles and ATV's for children will suddenly be made without lead – because they said so – Say goodbye to new drugs!
- An elderly gentlemen, over 80: "WW2 Vet, Medicare has been a blessing to me and my wife…reading about specific pages in bill…we Americans are benevolent people…"
- "Do you currently have enough votes to kill that bill?" Griffith: Yes, why it hasn't been voted on yet…and they have fewer votes than they did before, after these Town Hall Meetings.
- "Walking, without Hugo…If you're against it, where do I go?" Griffith: Let you have a choice of Insurance Companies…Let them compete…Ability to get Health Insurance will go up, like term life insurance, and home insurance…Will always be people who need to be on Medicare/Medicaid…Need to expand SHP…or will spend fortune correcting what could have corrected earlier…
- "How in the world did Democrats put someone like Pelosi in Chair…sounds like regardless of what American people want, they'll pass it." Griffith: If they do reconciliation (only need 51 votes in Senate, not 60), end of Democratic power – including President Obama…
- Vet from Iraqi Operation Freedom: "…didn't come back same…30% connected to VA…How am I going to be taken care of?" Griffith: Don't have to worry, VA getting better, not worse! (not a repeat of post-Vietnam) We have 486,000 Vets in Alabama, just under 80,000 in this district. We owe it to you and your family that you get the care…
- "Are you willing to oppose all Public Options?" Griffith: "All I've seen so far, I've opposed – don't know what's coming down the Pike.
- "Are Blue Dogs willing to pull Obama to the middle where most America is?" Griffith: If he doesn't separate himself from ones like Pelosi, he'll be a one-termer…Hasn't transitioned from a Campaigner to a President.
- "…How about a gift certificate to Dr. Kevorkian? …Ronald Reagan warned about socializing medicine."
- "Said earlier, 'no turning back Medicare'…almost had bill rammed down our throats…need time for public to see bills…ALL legislation should be approved by us…Medicare/Medicaid have raised the costs of Health Care…How will Single Payer reduce costs of Health Care?" Griffith: It won't! …Access to Health Care…It's outcomes we're interested in… Questioner: "Nothing in that bill that leads to positive outcomes." Griffith: Exactly! Questioner: "Bill gives employer incentive to drop Health Insurance…8% tax less than cost of Health Insurance currently providing." Griffith: Fewer people in private will pay higher, until private insurance goes away…leads to Single Payer Government Plan…
- Widow of proud Marine; brother was Marine… "Dad would have been exterminated under this… She has Blue Cross/Blue Shield…It works. Don't exterminate our parents and our Vets."
- Medical technologist for 37 years: "…will be shortages in ALL areas of Health Care… We (lab) did VA hospital inspection, found problems, no longer allowed to do inspections…Our VA system needs to be overhauled!"
- "So many Congressmen holding Town Halls…arrogant…not going to listen to his constituents…bothers me…" Griffith: Bothers
me too. Questioner: "How do we know who to trust in D.C. anymore?" Griffith: Many honest people in D.C…Representatives are people's reps! You best pay attention to your constituents. Questioner: "You yourself said we can't undo Medicare, so how do we undo this?" Griffith: Best just not to do it!
Then Griffith started using Great Depression as example of good government. Gag! Griffith: Some people need help, they truly do… (But our argument isn't against people needing help, it's about whose job it is to provide that help – individuals or the government?) Our strength is we can come together to solve…We can't get too close to a problem…We have a track record second to none…we cannot be defeatists!
- "All questions about Health Care have been answered…immigration is transforming our country overnight…what angered me…when they asked Barack Obama whether English should be official language…divides our country…angers me…We can send our solders to harm's way, but we can't secure our borders?!?" Griffith: Complete agreement…No backbone… Questioner: "Health Care is a problem…Immigration will rip our country apart! (If he is referring to illegal immigrants, I agree with him, but he almost sounded to me like he wanted ALL immigration ended!)
- "Knee replacement coming up…9 providers to find someone who will do…VA limit is 600/year…Tort Reform in Health Care will be handled, but still make Doctors more accountable?" (Something about an ad on TV that mentioned Congressman Griffith, as if it had his support, he didn't know anything about it in advance, or approve it…) Griffith: Tort Reform doesn't mean we don't want doctors sued… Questioner: "…Competition across state lines, if we bought insurance in California, and that Company went bankrupt, who bails them out?" Griffith: Health Insurance is regulated, reserves required… Questioner: "Most I can stay in hospital with knee surgery is 7 days…"
- "Paid taxes 47 years…I have a vested interest in what happens…resent being called a Radical…Make sure abortions are left out of any Health Care bill…" Griffith: Will do! (Okay, we've all heard it. Griffith has promised repeatedly now to vote against any bills that do not EXCLUDE abortions!)
- "…Courageous gentleman to say what said about Pelosi…Dr. Price of Georgia set up day to go over bill with Barack Obama; please take a day too." Griffith promised to do that.
- One of the last speakers of the night was a 16-year-old Eagle Scout whose Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. "We won the battle…like the Health Care we have…greatest in world." Griffith: You need to run for Congress.
- "Would like to see something pass…my brother has been laid off for 8 months…he has no insurance…there are people being laid off daily – Blue Cross/Blue Shield is great, I love my insurance, but what is in there for them?" Griffith: We are not saying NO to improving our Health Care system…you would not still have Medicare under…No one in Congress I've spoken to is against Health Care Reform, but want DIFFERENT bill! …No one wants to avoid that, we want to improve the system….Well-meaning individuals in Congress… (Well, as they say, the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions! And frankly, most of us don't care how "well-meaning" they are, we care what they DO!)
- "Illegal immigration, moment you bring it up you will be a bigot, a racist…this has to stop…the Schumers, the Pelosis…" Griffith: McCain got thrashed by his own party, over amnesty... Questioner: "Open Door into this country…."
And with that off-topic comment, an hour late, the 4-hour Town Hall had come to an end! All in all, I was glad we went. (Didn't realize then that we would be in Athens just a few days later listening to Congressman Griffith discuss Health Care yet again, but those notes have to wait for another blog post!)