I could be wrong, but when we said the Pledge of Allegiance I believe that the last seven words, “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” were said a little bit slower, and a little bit louder than the rest.
photo by Christina Bruner Sonsire
On Saturday I attended the third and final Rep. Tom Reed’s Town Hall meeting of the day. I realize that there have been many reports of one or more meetings on Social Media. Tom has been interviewed by both local and national reporters (a CNN interview can be seen below). You might have seen snippets of questions and his comments mixed in with other GOP House members.
The Hinsdale Firehouse Meeting Room holds 186. I don’t know how many chairs were set up, but as you can see it was pretty full. The crowd included various grass-roots resistant groups. Before the Reed entourage arrived, a few of the resistant leaders tried to quiet the crowd down; then s surveyed them. I didn’t count the responses, but an overwhelming number said they called or emailed Rep. Reed’s office about their feelings on the AHCA. Only a few indicated that they agreed with Reed. They also found out that a lot (maybe all) lived in the NY23rd.
After Reed arrived he had a student that he had appointed to a military academy lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, introduced his staff, and then he began. Reed spoke briefly about the Omnibus Bill that kept the government open through September, and briefly about North Korea.
Then he began answering questions about Health Care. This was not one of Tom’s better Town Halls. His message was more rhetoric than specifics. Most of his health care questions were answered by phrases from his American Heath Care Act (Yes, Health was misspelled) press release–see it below. (Follow this link for his updated/corrected document).
Rep. Reed has developed the skill of answering questions with non-answers. Two examples includes a woman (who was sitting next to me) with a loud distinctive voice yelling, “When do we see Trump’s Taxes?” Reed, reacting to her voice began to come forward to answer, then turns away and goes to the other side of the room and takes listens to an elderly gentleman.
When District Director Alison Hunt read a question from the audience that asked him if he approved of Trump’s cutting the EPA, he went into his energy talking points–
” I’ve supported a the “All of the above approach” my whole career. That includes fossils fuels, but that also includes alternative and renewables. We have supported energy and tax policies that deal with wind, solar, the production tax credits because I believe you need to have a short, mid, and long-term approach today. When it comes to fossil fuels and use of hydraulic fracturing I have always down to the side of doing it safely, responsibility. We come from a “Yes We Can” Attitude and innovation in America so if there is a problem, if there is a problem, an issues with this, let’s identify the issue and solve it. Don’t say no were can’t, t’s too hard. That is going to be something we can’t support.”
Unless you can consider his “Yes We Can” attitude is disagreeing with Trump’s cutting funds from the EPA, he doesn’t answer Hunt’s question.
There are the questions that were not asked. No one reminded our congress that the AHCA cuts $880 Billion from the Medicaid and $600 Billion will be going to a fund that would cut taxes for those earning more than $200,000. That will reduce millions from receiving Medicaid.
No one brought up that the AHCA has a “lifetime limit” clause. This video/article tells that the ACA became law a few days before a young boy would have reached his “lifetime limit”. His parents are afraid of what would happen if the ACA is repealed.
There were two memorable events:
A 60 year old self-employed man, (who has never been to a Town Hall Meeting, admits being a capitalist and free markets) with a wife and two children, pays $1200/month for his a family insurance policy with an a $11,000 deductible. His wife’s salary basically goes for health policy. He asked Rep. Reed, “What’s in this Bill helps my family? Reed’s response includes that this Bill (1) stops the mandates that causes the high deductibles and other issues to make the price go up (2) we open up some more competitive pressure (3) he will be able to receive tax credit (vouchers?) and use that money to go to pay the health care program that works for him. Nice answers, but Reed might have more credibility if he gave us less rhetoric than specifics.
A 14-year old boy with type 1 diabetes said to Rep. Reed, “I’m 14 years old and I am from Wellsville, New York. I have been living with Type 1 diabetes since I was 4 years old. My question is, well, look at me, a 14-year-old boy, in the eye, and justify how you can vote for a bill that will take away mine, and millions of others’, guarantee of not being discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. I didn’t ask for this. I was born with it. Justify to me how you can take away my guarantee of affordable health care? Because without it, I can’t purchase my diabetic — my medical supplies, and without those I can’t live.”
Reed responded, “I’ll look you in the eye, I’ll do you one better. As the father of a type 1 diabetic who held his son when he was 4 , and diagnosed with it, and I’m sure you went through a very similar experience. The fact that pre-existing conditions is in the bill, and it’s in this bill, is going to continue, and you will have access to health insurance just as you do today.”
Don’t forget the lifetime limits minted above and there is a surcharged for people with pre-existing conditions. Reed tweeted a picture of the him with the 14-year old.
Below is a video of Rep. Reed being interviewed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo. This starts with the young diabetic–Reed conversation and Cuomo has done his homework. Reed know his talking points.
Click on the American Heath Care Act document below for a printable pdf copy.
Seating in Hinsdale: ~11 rows X ~11 seats per row = 121 plus many standing to the left, right and back.
Healthcare is hard to do and hard to understand, yet some things are clear:
The current debate over coverage for those with preexisting conditions is important, but that is not the only important concern.
I wish someone at these meetings was conducting polling to discover how many of the people in attendance actually voted for Tom Reed. My guesstimate is that you will find it is less than 10% voted for Tom Reed.