Sen. McCaskill holds town hall meeting on health care in Moberly

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:10 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009
Sen. Claire McCaskill answers questions regarding health care during a town hall meeting held Monday at the Moberly Area Community College in Moberly.

MOBERLY — Nearly 500 Missourians packed Moberly Area Community College on Monday for a town hall meeting on health care reform without the anger and disruptions that has marked earlier meetings. The crowd, in general, voiced apprehension about and even some opposition to President Barack Obama's health care reform proposal. But most seemed to agree that some changes are needed.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., led the session, part of a series of town hall meetings across the state. The stop in Moberly was one of McCaskill's three forums Monday, which were also held in Hannibal and Kansas City. She will hold another forum in Jefferson City on Wednesday.


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"Some health care reform is necessary, but not all health care needs to be controlled by politicians instead of me and my doctor," a Columbia woman wrote in a letter that McCaskill read aloud. "I do not trust any of our government anymore, ... and by the way, people are shouting because nobody in Washington, D.C., is listening."

This statement was greeted with wild applause from the crowd.

"I get the government part ... that's one of the reasons I'm here," McCaskill said. "I also get that there's a lot of things that are going on in a very short period of time and that there are things that appear like we've all lost our minds ... and are throwing money out."

"I can't speak for everyone in Congress," McCaskill later said. "I think one of the problems we have in Washington is that ... sometimes some folks out there are more worried about whether or not they're going to get re-elected than whether they're going to solve the problem."

McCaskill outlined three major criteria in her approach to health care reform and legislation at the town hall meeting, including reforming insurance, expanding options and choices by having a competitive health insurance market and getting a handle on escalating health care costs.

"My job is to look at these bills and find something that will reform insurance," McCaskill said. "I guarantee you I can't find four people in this room that are not paying more money out of their pocket today for health care than they were last year, or the year before or the year before that."

The senator also said that a "constrained" public option for health coverage, initially one of the primary objectives of the Obama administration's health care reform proposal, could spur competition on the health insurance market and ultimately lower costs.

Many who were present at the Moberly forum seemed to support some of the proposals outlined in House Resolution 3200, the health care reform bill being considered by Congress, such as barring private insurers from denying coverage to patients with a pre-existing condition.

One woman in the crowd, who said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, said she has accumulated more than $100,000 in medical bills and is having difficulty getting her insurance company to pay for them.

"She’s saying that the bills are $100,000 for her breast cancer and her insurance company is fighting her and not paying ..., which is one of the things they do," McCaskill responded. "We're going to try and do something about that."   

Another concern expressed at the forum was whether or not tax dollars would be used to fund abortions under the more than 1,000-page health reform bill.

"I don't believe in abortion, and I don't want my tax dollars to fund this procedure," Beverly Kitchen of Slater wrote in a letter that McCaskill read aloud.

McCaskill insisted taxpayer dollars would not be used for that purpose.

"There is absolutely not one word in this bill that would allow one dime of federal money to be spent on abortion," McCaskill said. "The law right now, in the federal government, says that no federal money can be spent for abortion. Nothing in this bill changes that law."

McCaskill's statement was greeted by a wave of grumbles. One woman's voice rose above them. She said, "That's not true."

Whether a health reform bill will pass or not is another issue. When asked what the climate was like in Washington regarding support of the bill or not, McCaskill said she thinks politics are getting in the way.

"Unfortunately, it feels a little partisan right now," she said. "The one bill that's come out of committee in the Senate had 160-some Republican amendments compared to like 30 Democratic amendments, and none of the people who amended the bill ended up voting for the bill. So I think we're striving to try to find a bill that will accomplish the goals we need to accomplish for the American people but have it still be bipartisan.

"That's a struggle," McCaskill said. "I don't know if we'll get it done or not."




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Ray Shapiro August 25, 2009 | 12:29 a.m.

("I think one of the problems we have in Washington is that ... sometimes some folks out there are more worried about whether or not they're going to get re-elected than whether they're going to solve the problem.")
Regardless of what's motivating these politicians, if they are not clear as to what "problems" their bills and policies are trying to address and how these bills and policies are exactly going to solve these "problems" how can we buy into their rhetoric. Voters/citizens have every right to worry about the consequences and new problems these vague bills and policies could create if passed/implemented.
My biggest concern is that the Federal government is moving forward on its efforts to increase the power of the executive branch and create increased citizen dependence on government.
Who exactly is writing these proposed bills and why are they being rushed through during Obama's first year in office?

(The HC Monstrosity-All 1,018 Pages
Since Congress doesn’t want to read the Health Care Bill and Obama, ACORN, Unions, Lawyers, & Special Interest Groups don’t want you to know whats in this monstrosity, I decided to do it myself. I’ve taken all my tweets on the HC bill and put them into one single place for your enjoyment.")
source and more:

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 25, 2009 | 3:49 p.m.

The U.S. health-plan market is run by a complex system of federal state laws and regulations that are already out of date and therefore counterproductive. One of these laws is the federal tax code. People receive unlimited tax breaks when purchasing health plans, if they get their coverage through their employers. Outside the workplace, Americans pay for health insurance with after-tax dollars. The solution to this inefficient system is a statewide insurance exchange, which offers individuals and families the chance to obtain the health insurance of their choice without losing tax benefits.

By law many health insurance tax benefits are only available to those who are subsidized by their employers or are in an employer-based system. Purchasing health plans outside this system often entails not only inflexible government mandates and high administrative costs, but also state and federal tax breaks. Losing these tax breaks can mean an addition of 40 to 50 percent to the total cost of the purchased health care plan, compared to the cost of obtaining it with an employer\'s subsidy.

The solution to this problem is a single health insurance market, which should be designed to work well for everyone, not just for employees working for large companies.

A health insurance market exchange should be designed to work as a market for every type of insurance plan, including health maintenance organizations, health savings accounts, traditional health insurance plans and other options that might present themselves in response to people\'s demands

In principle a health insurance exchange should work like a stock exchange, which functions as a single market for all sorts of stocks and which regulates the costs of selling, purchasing and trading stocks.")
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