Monday, January 4, 2010

Health Care Town Hall: Congresswoman Donna Edwards Leading on Reform

(Reposted as part of our staff picks from 2009, originally written by Will Urquhart on 8/07/2009)

We at Sum of Change, attended a health care town hall last night, hosted by Congresswoman Donna Edwards. The Congresswoman gave a brief speech, and then opened the floor for questions. The town hall was heated, which should come as no surprise. Not only were conservative groups organizing to get people out to these town halls (with detailed instructions about how to act and talk), OFA 2.0, several Unions, and liberal bloggers pushed progressives to turn out as well. The debate was vigorous, but not disrespectful. If anyone came there with the intent of disrupting the town hall, they failed miserably.

We'll go through a round of the Q&A questions. I strongly recommend watching these all the way through, the Congresswoman knows how to finish an answer.

We shall start with the big, scary end of life care question :

Ladies and gentleman, that is how it's done.

How about the 'our health care system isn't broken' question (which, as it turns out, isn't a question):

Buddy, my mother is a cardiologist, in Maryland too, with a private practice, who deals with plenty of Medicare and private insurance patients, and makes a damn fine living at it. She voted for President Obama in large part because she believes our health care system is a disaster. She loves her job, and her patients.

And on health care as it relates to undocumented workers:

The Congresswoman takes a question from a military wife:

And here is our quick interview with her: (since the room was so loud we have provided a transcript of this interview for those that have difficulty hearing it):

Q: At the progressive press conference last week, the progressive caucus press conference, you touched on progressives ceding single payer if, and only if, there is a public option.

EDWARDS: (aside) Thank you…

Q: And you touched, briefly, on why that’s important for progressives to do. Can you talk a little more about why it is important, and why, for the blue dogs, why the compromises end at the public option?

EDWARDS: Well, you know, it’s hard for me to speak for where the blue dogs are going because a number of the provisions that they have proposed actually increase costs. And, which is amazing from a group a members, frankly, who’ve said that they want to decrease costs. What I can share with you though, is that we are, out of energy and commerce, we got a commitment that we are gonna get a stand alone vote on single payer, which I think is important to set a marker. But we also cannot abandon the public option, sort of take our eye off of that prize because we run the risk of not being able to preserve anything going into a battle with the United States Senate.

Q: Okay, and one last question. A lot of people have talked about the demons of socialized medicine and obviously we all know the military is on the government run option. Have the opponents of health care, has anyone proposed giving the military a better health care system? Or do they think that the military gets the best health care we can buy?

EDWARDS: No, I mean, I think that, I mean, I come from this experience, because I grew up in the air force, I know the military system. And know that, that it works, and I also know that it’s government provided. And so, I always just share with people that, for those people who are so against government being involved in health care, look at our military, look at our veterans, look at Medicare, so many of us are actually already engaged in government provided health care.

Q: But, as far as you know, no opponents have, have suggested changing that?


Q: Do they think, they don’t think there’s a better system for the military?

EDWARDS: No. I mean, it’s a good, the military system is a good system and it serves, but it serves a particular purpose. Whether that’s something that we could then, sort of, translate into the public sector is a different question all together. It’s something that has to do with just by the way they can provide service, just because of the (inaudible, contiguity?) of having everybody located on a duty station or something like that, that may or may not be appropriate for the broader public.
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