Sep 022009

More than 400 people attended a town hall on health care at Ashford University in Clinton Aug. 31.

By Deacon Arthur Donart

A Health Care Town Hall meeting held Aug. 31 at Ashford University in Clinton attracted upward of 400 people, a great many from Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish including some pastoral council members. Congressman Bruce Braley was introduced by Donna Oliver, C.E.O. of Clinton’s Mercy Medical Center who has been advising the congressman on health care issues.

Rep. Braley, D-Iowa, started the meeting by reviewing the process H.B. 3200 has been through and explaining the next steps before a final version of health care reform legislation is passed. Then he debunked myths surrounding the health care debate, especially as they apply to H.B. 3200.

He stated, “There won’t be any bureaucratic panel to ‘pull the plug on grandma.’” He read from sections of the bill that specifically prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In response to a question from the audience, Braley stated, “this bill prohibits federal funding of abortion and it includes a respect for conscience clause so that no health care provider or practitioner has to assist in what violates their conscience.”

Mike Finn, a member of Prince of Peace Pastoral Council, inquired about universal coverage. Braley assured him that this is the goal of H.B. 3200 and there would be subsidized coverage for the poor and working poor in order to cover everyone.

Braley also explained how the bill, if passed, would be paid for. He insisted that it would not increase the national debt, but would help to bring it down. He stated that more focus would be placed on preventative medicine and healthier lifestyles.

Preventative health care measures and reducing pharmaceutical and health insurance profits would go toward paying for the plan. The remainder of the cost would be covered by an income surtax on single incomes over $260,000 per year and joint filers with incomes over $320,000. Cost savings also are expected by changing from a fee-for-service system to rewarding doctors for providing quality care.

Preventative care would count for lowering cost as well as increasing bargaining power for consumers. Braley mentioned that the youth obesity problem was an example of why, “if we do nothing” our health care bills will skyrocket.

(Deacon Donart is a member of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.)

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