Our Congressman Buck McKeon held a telephone and web based town hall meeting Monday night to field questions about current health care reform bills before Congress. Joining McKeon was Representative Tom Price, (R-GA). Price was a practicing physician before beginning his tenure in Congress.
Health care reform is the hottest issue in national politics these days, with majority Democrats in both houses introducing reform bills. Congressman McKeon, along with most republicans, find fault with the bills, citing concern over government intervention and cost.
As a result, many congressmen are holding similar town hall meetings with their constituents to explain their take. At its highest, this meeting hosted 2,223 participants, with over 90% listening in over the phone while the remainder watched a live web video feed.
Perhaps the largest point of concern is over who pays for providing health insurance to the uninsured. That price would primarily fall on businesses. Those with payroll of between $250,000-$499,000 who do not provide health care to their employees will be forced to pay a 4 percent fine. Companies with payrolls exceeding $500,000 will have to pay an 8 percent fine.
McKeon and Price worry that such a proposal would ensure that the companies who do provide health care for employees will stop, because the fine could be less expensive than providing private insurance. That could leave a much greater number of people sliding over to a government-run plan, thus increasing the taxpayer burden.
Expanding the problem, according to Price, is that an estimated 25 percent of the potential beneficiaries of government run health care reform are not legal United States citizens.
"It just doesn't make any sense to provide non-emergent care to people who are here illegally," Price said.
He went on to call the situation a potential "magnet" for further illegal immigration.
Another standout issue of the town hall meeting was that of providing affordable health care. McKeon and Price agreed that health care reform should target the specific issues that make healthcare so expensive to begin with. Legal concerns and doctor protections are a major cost for health care providers, along with regulatory procedures. Reform those areas, say McKeon and Price, and you can save hundreds of billions of dollars.
In a poll, McKeon asked the participants the following question: Do you support the creation of a government-run insurance plan that would compete against private plans? Of those surveyed from the Republican-voting district, over 62 percent voted no.
At the end of the hour long forum, McKeon urged participants to email their questions about health care to his office. To submit a question, click here.