Marietta congressman talks overhaul before orderly Kennesaw crowd
by Talia Mollett
tmollett@mdjonline.com
August 21, 2009 01:00 AM | 783 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KENNESAW - Expect a health care reform bill, in some form, to pass this year, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) told hundreds of attendees at a standing-room-only town hall meeting in Kennesaw Thursday night.

Unlike many of the heated forums across the country, Gingrey's meeting on reforming health care was calm, cool and collected. Gingrey was praised with standing ovations for his discontent with President Obama's proposed health care reform.

"When you really cut to the chase and do all the subtraction, you have about 10 to 15 million people who need our help. So we are going to spend $2.5 trillion over the next 15 years and junk our current system, throw the baby out with the bath water and turn the whole health care system in our country lock, stock and barrel over to the government? I say no," Gingrey said.

The congressman did acknowledge the need to reform the health care system in America.

"I do believe that we can save our health care system. I truly believe we have the best health care system in the world. It's too expensive and we need to do something about those, who through no fault of their own, are high risk. We need to create high risk pools," he said. "Insurance reform, I've said it a number of times, I think we can do that. It may take a little bit more than tweaking around the edges."

Kennesaw resident Melissa Rollins, 29, who is insured through her company, said she is most concerned about the projected trillions of dollars the reform will cost.

"It's a very huge problem and it's not an easy fix," she said.

John Drollinger, 63, of Kennesaw, said he was worried that health care reform is being pushed through without a full and proper debate.

"I don't think the American people are being listened to. We're ordinary common people and most of us don't get involved in politics. Washington is not listening to us," he said.

Drollinger has both private insurance and Medicare and said his insurance is affordable.

"This is a free country and we should have free choices. I don't need someone in Washington deciding that they know how to spend my money better than I do. They can take a hike," he said. "I would vote totally against this. I will do everything and my friends will do everything that if any congressman votes for this, no matter if they're here or in Texas, this will be their last chance to vote. We will throw their butts out."

Jon Whitmer, 62, of Kennesaw, said he just began getting social security this month.

"The fact that they're trying to do this on the back of Medicare and the fact that they can hardly make it work financially now with the projections they have, it's going to run into bankruptcy. The only way you can stop that is rationing health care," he said.

Whitmer is using Cobra for health insurance.

"I would like to see better access to health care, but not in a government program," he said.

Kennesaw resident Michael Cox, 50, said he is most concerned with health insurance for his children.

"I have great insurance right now. They're off my insurance starting next year and I'm concerned about what they're going to get," he said. "I would like to see everyone insured, but I believe everyone should also be paying to get it."

Meantime, in an opinion column printed Thursday, Obama said, "This is what reform is about. If you don't have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don't believe anyone should be in charge of your health care decisions but you and your doctor-not government bureaucrats, not insurance companies."

Also, Obama has told opponents of his proposed health care reform that it is deficit neutral and that he would not sign any health care reform that isn't paid for.

Community activist D.A. King told Gingrey he was frustrated that he recently got rejected for the health insurance coverage he was promised when he signed up as a United States Marine in 1969.

"I was told at that time that as a condition of my service I would have free no-cost medical treatment for the rest of my life. I stand before you at 57 years old having received a letter from the V.A. telling me that because of a means test, I am not eligible for any part of that promised care, but I watch as my tax dollars go to pay for people in an emergency room for people who are in this country in violation of our laws. It is very upsetting," he said.

Gingrey responded that the bill says no subsidies or government sponsored or supported health care will go to illegal immigrants, but it changes the identification process.

"You could almost say to a test as to who you are, 'well mama says that's who I am,'" he said.

Most of the audience applauded the Congressman's comments, but even some of his supporters said they were concerned they could do nothing to stop the bill from passing.

The meeting was at the Ben Robertson Community Center in Kennesaw.

Gingrey officials said he would host a second town hall meeting Aug. 31 at the Cobb Civic Center.
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