Town hall health care meeting held to inform about reform

Gregory D. Cook
September 10, 2009
Filed under News

The debate on national health
care reform came to Bakersfield
on August 26, when Congressman
Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hosted
a town hall meeting in the Icardo
Center on the Cal State Bakersfield
campus.

The purpose of the meeting, according
to McCarthy, was to inform
citizens about the shortcomings
of the current health care reform
bill and to give people a chance
to voice their concerns. McCarthy
opened the meeting by stating that
while he agrees that health care reform
is needed, he is opposed to the
current bill.

“We’ve got a number of people
paying more attention to politics
than ever before,” McCarthy said in
an interview before the meeting.

“We can come up with common
sense ideas to solve our health care
problems.” The congressman said
he hoped to gather public opinion
on the issue of health care to take
back to Washington. “We can present
those [ideas] and actually solve
the problem,” he said. “Because the
current bill does not.”

During the two-hour town hall
meeting, McCarthy answered
questions and listened to comments
from a crowd of nearly 3,000 people
House Resolution 3200, America’s
Affordable Health Choices
Act of 2009, was introduced before
Congress in July by John Dingell
(D-Mich.). The bill would seek to
extend health care coverage to approximately
40 million uninsured
Americans. It would accomplish
this in part by setting up a government-
run insurance plan. Many
of the comments made expressed
concerns that the government was
overstepping its bounds by enacting
such sweeping reforms.

Attendee Paul Mimeault asked,
“Where in the Constitution of the
United States does it say it’s the
federal government’s business to
handle our health care?” His question drew cheers from the crowd.

“I’ll tell you,” McCarthy answered.
“I’ve read it. It doesn’t say it.”

Other people voiced concerns over
the cost to the taxpayers of a government
run health care program.

“I, like most people, don’t want
to be financially raped by insurance
companies or financially raped by my
government,” said Mike Roadcap, a
local businessman. His comment was
also answered with cheers and calls
of “amen” from the crowd.

While most people spoke out
against the current healthcare bill,
Billy Olsen, a former health care
company executive who also suffers
from multiple sclerosis, made an impassioned
plea for some sort of reform.
“My shots for M.S. cost $2,000
a month,” Olsen said. “What private
insurance company wants me?”

“You people who are healthy think
that we have the greatest health care
system,” Olsen continued. “Ask the
disabled who came here tonight. We
are suffering, and we need our government
to stand up for us.”

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