Democracy alive and well at town hall meetings

While the Administration ushers in a new era of health care reform, town halls find democracy alive and well across the country. As these meetings unfold, Rasmussen Polls reports health care is more unpopular and nearing double digit 53-42 deficit.

Getting to the nitty gritty of the health care bill isn’t easy. There are up to six bills floating around Washington D.C., making it hard for legislators to either defend or defeat an industry that consumes one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

The White House is trying to re-brand its health care reform package to health ‘insurance’ reform; thus painting the insurance company as the bogeyman. The shift in tactics, however, has done nothing to sway public support and the numbers continue to move away from the White House plans.

Town halls across the swath of the nation have generating genuine passion and California has been no different. Although, the crowd in San Diego early in the day, seemed to be fairly split, one thing was clear; there was anger on both sides of the issue.

Congressman Brian Bilbray-R, Calif. braved the packed senior center to answer questions about the Obama Administrations attempt to push through health care reform. Questions varied from rationing, to costs and what will be covered.

Oddly, when it came to the insurance companies themselves, the Congressman placed the blame squarely on the U.S. government and stated that “Washington will create the monopoly with health insurance companies, if people were allowed to buy insurance across state lines there would be a lot more competition and less price fixing.”

When the discussion moved to true reform, “cleaning up waste, fraud and abuse,” the entire room erupted in laughter. Bilbray said, “Why do we need legislation to fix this problem, we should be doing that anyway- it’s your money.” Again, the majority agreed.

“If it doesn’t pass the smell test, something is wrong,” he said. “Listen to all the points on this issue and we can build a consensus.”

Among the many agreements within the room was the inclusion of those here illegally. Most did not want to cover people who were not citizens in this country and the Congressman stated he would not vote for legislation with coverage for illegals.

The ability to afford health insurance is a problem for the recently unemployed, young people, self employed and small business owners. Bilbray said “Washington should be eliminating the walls for the individuals and allowing them to get together and purchase reasonable health care.” Again, there was consensus among the audience on this topic.

Most walked away from the hour-long Q &A believing the free-market system was the way out of this with insurance reform, not government control.

“I was just looking for answers and I found out we are all talking about something that really doesn’t even exist yet,” says Bob Crowe of San Diego.

“What the government is doing is a travesty,” said Gary Odaffer, a San Diego resident. “Our government is worthless; it’s all about big business and Troubled Assets Relief Program, TARP.”

Others were looking to see if the Republicans had any alternatives to the Democrat plan. One resident asked the Congressman if they were just the party of ‘no’ or if they had a plan out there as well.

“The Republicans are not allowed to bring anything to the floor without 218 votes. We currently have only 178 Republicans in the House a number well-short of what is needed,” an exasperated Bilbray said. “We are not even allowed to write amendments, the House Republicans have been completely shut out of the process.”

“However, the House and the Senate Republicans both have a plan,” Bilbray says. The following sites contain Republican or House plan .

When the government gets involved in handing out an item, such as health care, and when it becomes a scarcity, it is common sense to see there will be rationing. Bilbray pointed out that if the 47 million number is accurate, then where we are going to find all the new doctors, nurses and facilities required to treat the influx of new people.

The Obama Administration also seems to be driving a fissure between his party and the senior citizens as they oppose this bill in a 56 -39 percent. This is a double-digit unfavorable rating for the Presidents’ health reform bill.

Some continuants noticed the current health care bill will only be implemented in 2013 and wondered why. “Sticker shock,” replied Bilbray. “The President wants to win a second term and if he announces that health care will cost $1.6 trillion for six years; voters may have buyer’s remorse.”

After meeting with several doctors, Bilbray noted the need for health insurance portability and the fact there will be a shortage of doctors and nurses in the future. “I wanted to talk to people with a vested outcome in health care reform.”

Physicians have pointed out that medical schools have already seen a fall off in students looking to the medical profession. Before long America will have to look to India for medical field professionals, the Congressman noted.

At a later town hall in San Diego with Democrat Susan Davis-D, Calif., the ruckus crowd could not squeeze into the community center, leaving hundreds outside to make their voices heard.

With San Diego Police Department out making their presence known, the voters on either side of the debate were chanting political slogans like, ‘yes we can and health care now.’ Clearly there were grass roots members from the tea parties to the right and the White House’s Organize for America in attendance.

“We must be respectful inside and out,” said Edith Smith of San Diego. “We all need to contribute when it comes to health care; the status quo is not working.”

Another San Diego resident, David West said, “The leaders need to create a list of what is broken and try to fix it.”

The bottom line for voters to keep in mind is to, read, listen and question with boldness everything the elected officials put before the taxpayer. And maybe cooler heads can result in something everyone can live with.

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About thekdreport

Investigative journalist

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