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East County Friday, Aug. 21, 2009 8 years ago

Constituents pack town hall meeting

by: Pam McTeer

Cars were parked in every nook and cranny of Braden River High School campus Thursday as Congressman Vern Buchanan hosted a town hall meeting about health care reform. 

Five minutes after the meeting started, Buchanan’s staff began turning people away because both the school’s auditorium and cafeteria were filled to standing room only. More than 1,300 were in attendance.

Buchanan said  Congress needs to take its time in moving forward with any plans for health care reform to make sure it is done correctly the first time around. Working families already are being squeezed from every direction, particularly in the area of health insurance, and something needs to be done to drive costs down.

“We don’t need to move to a single-payer system to do that,” Buchanan said. “We’ve got to make sure we get this right with all those dynamics (baby boomers, veterans and other commitments) in play. This is about America.”

Buchanan also pledged his commitment to seniors and veterans, saying senior citizens are concerned about the government deciding what services they can and cannot have. While Medicare and Medicaid are not perfect, they are not bad, he said.

“We have to do what is best for America and best for Florida, but we have to stand by our seniors,” Buchanan said. “I’m not interested in taking that from our seniors and giving it to someone else.”

Buchanan encouraged his constituents to read the bill that President Barack Obama is proposing.

Several individuals at the town hall who spoke in opposition to the bill cited specific lines they opposed, including ones mentioning the rationing of health care and the reduction of physician services in some instances.

“They are going to ration health care,” said Christian Retreat resident Linda Sack, who needs $350,000 in surgeries. “If I get the surgeries, and they don’t work, I’ve already maxed out. If they don’t work, what would they do with me? I’d be disposable.”

Bradenton resident Mitch Mallett, a supporter of Obama’s plans, said that many of the comments made at the town hall meeting were ignorant.

“I think a public option (for health care) would be a tremendous thing because they would take in everybody,” he said. “We have a public option for homeowner’s insurance in Florida. … I don’t think people are looking at the whole picture.”

For full coverage, see the Aug. 27 edition of The East County Observer.

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