More than 400 people packed into two rooms at Dowdle Hall this morning to discuss health care with Senator Jeff Sessions. Almost everyone at the event supported Sessions – maybe a dozen people supported ‘the Obama plan’ (or 3%).
As Senator Sessions was being introduced by the Hospital Administrator, a woman asked if she could say a prayer for the event – I thought uh oh, Sessions should have brought his own prayergiver. Sure enough, the lady exhorted the crowd to pray for the President and to quit complaining about his policies. She later held up a ‘protest’ sign during the event.
Robyn McGlohn of WAFF48, WHNT19 (who picture the only two protesters outside the event and note that “the majority” of the crowd supported Sessions – 97% is only a majority), and WAAY31 covered the event. So did Patricia McCarter of the Huntsville Times, who wrote this disappointing article, “Hundreds attend U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ health care reform town hall in Huntsville” - McCarter used more virtual ink on Obama supporter Eddgra Fallin than she did on the Senator.
Sessions began by speaking about the “out of control” TARP program, which he said was a “product of panic, rather than thought”. “There is no plan to get the country back on firm financial footing. This is unsustainable”. Sessions said “nothing is free” when noting that the interest payments on the national debt would rise from $170 billion to $800 billion in the next 10 yeays, not including Obama’s health care. He said Medicare is projected to be broken by 2017 and that the Feds have plans to shift costs to the States.
“I’m worried about the future of the country”.
Here are my notes from Senator Sessions’ Q&A (I couldn’t see many of the questioners because of the crowd). Even though my notes are abbreviated, I hope you get the gist of the Q&A:
Q = denied coverage for pre-existing condition
A = “I support addressing the issue”
Q = want all insurance to be like USAA (mistakenly claims that USAA is a Govt program)
A = USAA is not Govt. Portability of insurance from employer-based to family-based (would be a big change).
Q (might have been Mo Brooks – I thought I recognized his voice) = How can the Govt generate economic growth so people have jobs and can pay for health insurance?
A = lower tax rates
Q = “I’m not an insurance company employee, redneck, nazi, mobster, racist, or teabagger”; I am concerned about “the dismantling of the country in one year”. Where in the Constitution does it say that health care is a right? Where does it say that illegals get health coverage from the Govt?
A = It doesn’t. ”enumerated powers”
Q = We’re “living under a Fascist regime”. Explain why voter intimidation charges against the Black Panthers were dropped.
A = wrote a letter to Attorney General Holder asking for an explanation. “sanctity of ballot”.
Q = Comment on protestor sign saying that ’700,000 Alabamians don’t have health care’ – says not true. Asks about tort reform.
A = reform to make more like workers’ compensation; litigation reform could save 5-30%.
Q = Govt access to bank accounts for health care
A = “not sure”, audience member quotes from one of the bills saying it’s true. Sessions says that Congress should take time to have a national discussion over the final version of any bill before voting.
Q = Why should Americans pay for illegals’ health care?
A = “it ought not be our policy”, “committed to a lawful system of immigration”
Q = What can citizens do to find common ground?
A = “amazed at how sophisticated people are” and well-informed. Poor people have Medicaid. Seniors have Medicare. Hospitals treat everyone. Problem is cost.
Q = Obama claims that he can create or save jobs with Govt spending.
A = tax cuts create jobs
Q = Need more town halls. Govt can’t run business. Who protects the rights of those who pay the bills?
A = “well said”
Q = Need balanced budget amendment.
A = “I couldn’t agree more”. “Sound currency is a moral obligation”.
Q = AL Hospital Association – thanks for working on wage index, Medicare negotiation
A = hospital and ambulance reimbursement rates are lower for rural areas vs cities, and different between regions – shenanigans. 50% of health care cost is Medicare and Medicaid.
Q = “horrified at spending”. Czars circumvent Congress.
A = “It’s a BI-CZAR situation” (heh) Congress doesn’t do enough oversight, 2 year budgeting would allow for more oversight.
Q = “thank audience for being well-behaved” (I know this is a condescending setup) “Health care is a right”. Likes 1) portability; 2) reform denial of coverage and 3) workers comp for tort reform. “Do you affirm that health care is a right, and should it be universal”.
A = “not universal”, “Constitution does not define health care as a right”.
I met a guy who was taking notes for his Facebook page – as soon as I get the link, I’ll post it so you can see his notes…
BTW both Mo Brooks and Les Phillip attended the town hall. Can you imagine the sacrifice both these guys will be making – they’ll be attending meetings like this all over North Alabama just about every day for the next 9 months.