My notes from last week's Town Hall Meeting with the next Congressman from our district: Les Philip.
The meeting was very refreshing after the one I attended in July. Most of the people in attendance were well behaved, and most asked reasonable questions.
Les' Campaign Manager reminded us that "this a dangerous time for our country" and that "now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country." Les was introduced to us – an immigrant to our country who pursued his dream to be an aviator for the Navy, then joined Industry, and now runs a small business with his wife – the kind of credentials we need in D.C.
Les pointed out that: "These are difficult times…and one of the most important things today is Health Care…and our Representative is out of the country…When I hold this position, you'll know where I'm at when I'm home…"
Les also pointed out that "most of our representatives have not read the bill…and if they need a team of lawyers to read a bill, they need to get a new bill….Health Care will touch every one of us, it is the one thing that touches every single life in the United States."
And then he asked, "Why do we want to get rid of the best system in the world? Who thinks we need to overhaul the entire system?" Apparently only one hand went up from the 150 – 200 people present in the room, so Les graciously gave that gentleman the opportunity to ask the first question.
- "…people are going bankrupt because of Health Care…people who oppose it are offering NO plan" Les: "Not true that there are no alternative plans. One of areas looking at is competition…Competition equals zero…The federal government can break down barriers to competition, efficiencies/profits will be increased." Les went on to say that the "reason no competition is roadblocks the federal government needs to get out of way." And he pointed out the need for "Health Savings Accounts with catastrophic policy – Young People should at least have = responsibility (prevents bankruptcy and burden on society)…Portability: Insurance policy goes with you; not attached to your job." And "Tort Reform…OB in my family – she pays half a million dollars/year in liability insurance….For the last 100 years incidents at birth have stayed steady (attorneys also know, and will take any case to exploit tragedy)…Risk/Balance Ration is out of whack."
Les went on to point out that he was against this Health Care Reform because "It is not in the Constitution" and "It is not the Government's responsibility." (Much applause). Les also mentioned that he has travelled to England extensively…their Nationalized Health Care is causing too long of waits – so they make people wait outside the Emergency Room to reduce official "waiting times". He repeated his conviction that the "Government needs to get rid of roadblocks and increase competition…We as citizens need to get engaged – use our religious institutions and community organizations to help the poor."
- Because of…doctors…catering to those who can afford this…poor people are dying in Emergency Rooms. Do you have anything to refute that?" Les: "One of the reasons people are dying in Emergency Rooms because we have an illegal alien problem. Dozens of hospitals have closed in California because of illegals…California's debt…because of illegals."
- I missed much of what the next person said, but it seemed to be more a comment to the effect that "I think the American Dream is being destroyed socially and economically…$0.46 of every dollar the Federal Government is spending is borrowed."
To which Les responded: "I agree 100%. We cannot afford this Health Care bill – costs for it are expected to be between 1 – 1.6 Trillion dollars. He then when on to point out that "other countries are taking our corporations because they charge them less or no taxes: Ireland and Hong Kong, for instance, are good countries for businesses, and Hong Kong is the most prosperous country in the world: When everyone has a job, you don't need social programs." The doctor on the panel then spoke up: "On the issue of people not being taken care of: People come in time and time again that can't afford care – they get it – they are being taken care of. The myth that patients are not being taken care of is nothing but a myth."
- The next question came from a Doctor/immigrant who had worked in England under their socialized medicine. He eventually got to his question for Les, "America is a land of opportunities…not one size fits all…do you support that dream?" Les: "Yes, because that is the American way!"
- "There has been a crackdown on Medicare and Medicaid fraud – how can giving government more to do…help…Do you have any ideas?" Les: "Regular audits of Medicare and Medicaid."
- Next person was a retired military person…He never got to a question. He spoke of poor who can't get coverage and tax incentives for those who give benevolence service…Very few people who can't get medical care in this country…He spoke of a free Medical Clinic – private with volunteers…
- Two questions from the next person. Can you document your earlier statement about the long waiting periods in England? And who will provide for the poor? Les: As far as the first question, personal observation – and you can Google it." And the Doctor spoke up to answer the second question: "Those coming from outside America to work say Americans are the most generous in the world."
- Understand you want to give examples of other countries, but it is a shame that our elderly cannot afford to pay for their medicines and a majority of Americans don't have Health Insurance. What are you… Les: "Most Americans DO have Health Insurance." She then claims that 2/3 don't have appropriate insurance. Les said: "84% have Insurance, and 85% are happy with their insurance…We need competition in the insurance industry. She then said that competition isn't good, that the only thing working is Medicare and Medicaid. Then she added that the majority of us are NOT happy with our insurance, even though we are claiming we are. Les just had Dale go on to the next person at that point…
- This young woman was 23-years-old, married and expecting her 2nd child. She is uninsured, but did not go to the government aid to get help, her husband is working overtime. She is concerned about page 167 in the bill that says they will tax individuals like her who choose not to have "acceptable coverage". She feels infringed upon with this bill. Les: "The choices you have now will be taken away." The gentleman from question #7 yelled at him "Not true", to which the audience yelled at questioner #7 – "Read the bill".
- A cancer survivor: "Our right to be able to choose…what comfort can you give me?" and "When I was on Medicaid I got punished for working." Les: "One thing I want to say about that – the government's job is to provide opportunity, not equal outcome – that will just bring everyone down."
- "Our representatives are to listen to us…we must stop this bipartisan voting…we have to have a change in attitude in Congress." Les: "Absolutely, right. Elections have consequences…didn't just start 6 months ago…started over 100 years ago when politicians figured out could tax one group to buy votes from another." At this point Les help up a pocket Constitution: " signed a pledge to govern by it…We are human beings, we are imperfect, but we got her because of…constitution…rights come with responsibility…until we elect people who understand what's in this document…It's not 1000 pages..why do we want to go away from this? I do not understand."
- "62,000 people trying to insure with this bill…yet could cover them with one fourth that cost and cover everyone – they really want government control!" Les: "Government is to promote the general welfare, not provide for it and protect us! … Socializing medicine…has failed everywhere else."
- "America is great…and a light in a world full of darkness….Our Health Care system helps many people..how do you persuade those who have private insurance, but can't afford it…how do you persuade them that we need to improve what we have, not completely overhaul?" Les: "Events like this and personal conversations – not media!"
- "Cancer death rates are much higher in Canada and England…How would my 56-year-old family member get help? Les: "Probably wouldn't (if we get this "reform") I was brought up to respect my elders – to take care of the very young and the old…"Type of people we are – we don't ration food and we shouldn't ration health care."
- Another comment, not really a question for Les: "Only one part of medical care that is not controlled by government, and the costs have gone down. Do you know what that is?" (someone in audience answered "Plastic Surgery")
- Will Doctors stand up against AMA and resign from the organization and start their own? The doctor answered: "Many have already left AMA. Medical students have to be part of it, but many doctors drop immediately…and many doctors ARE leaving AMA over this bill."
- "The financial state of U.S….we're close to bankruptcy…if there was nationalized Health Care…What are your feelings about the National Debt? And I'm a third generation Hispanic – my parents came here legally – Are you familiar w/ E-Verify? What is your stand on it? Les: "The National Debt needs to be reduced – government has to reduce its output – need to reduce the corporate tax rate." And "The federal government's job is to protect our borders, but it is so bad now, need to implement E-Verify."
- Question from two teachers: "Our health insurance is currently provided by the state – we are concerned we will lose benefits if Health Care bill passes. Les: A website with this information….One thing we have to realize is we aren't helpless…we have to remember who we are and where we came from."
- How can we get info out there (on these plans) so people can get the truth? Les: "Heritage Foundation is one of the best sources."
- Just an example this time: "My mother-in-law moved back to England when her husband died, but kept her insurance here. She came back to the U.S. had a stress test which found two of her arteries were blocked. 5 years later she is still alive."
- What do you think of the Fair Tax? Les: "For it"
- "Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness..What its all about, not what the government provides….Paul said, "If you don't work, you don't eat. Questions: If they pass this plan, what are our options? And "Problem with Health Savings Accounts – some lose unspent portion at end of each year." Les: "If it passes, your job is to vote the bums out…Reason I want to go to the House because that's where the money is…Health Savings Accounts are not a choice under this plan."
- "Do any of the bills address tort reform or portability?" Les: "No." Back to questioner: "Afraid of public option – false competition – government will undercut private industries, and start rationing care." Les: "Agree."
- Comment: "Believe our Health Care should be reformed…Congress should be forced to follow."
- More comments: "Health Care is distorted by Government…Medicaid and Medicare both pay less than 100% of costs, causing Insurance Companies to pay more…Individuals can't deduct cost of their Health Care, companies can."
- "I'm not an immigrant; I was born here….Blue Cross/Blue Shield lobbies in Montgomery to keep out competition…Why haven't Republicans addressed earlier?" Les: "Get rid of the 50 state Health Commissioners; make it interstate….You hire people who govern by the Constitution, not party."
- "What's going to happen to Senior Citizens?" and "How can we pay for all these illegals?" Les: "Agree with you…foundation of all societies is a family – mother, father, children…Have to go back to the foundations of this country?"
- "…Cost of medicine will become unsustainable in 25 years if limits not put on…cost control…more than 20+ cardio doctors here now and 30+ ortho docors here now (increased consumption) How can we afford unlimited access to medical assets? How will we pay for it? Doctor Ed answers: "At some point, providers, citizens, have to say, can't do everything for everybody…battle in Medical Community. We do Cardiac CTs here than can now reverse heart disease. It costs less than $1,000 to do scan. Blue Cross doesn't want to pay for it – though Heart Attack could cost $100,000 later….We have all sides out here tonight, we didn't shut anyone out here…"
Les: "Thanks for coming out. Whoever you vote for, make sure they believe our governing document is the Constitution."
And with that, an hour and a half Town Hall Meeting on Health Care ended. I was very impressed with Les Philip's thoughts on the subject, and the way he handled the questions. I was also impressed with the way the majority of the audience behaved themselves.