Town hall meeting draws a big crowd

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By Jennifer Caldwell

In the capacity crowd Knoxville resident Rob Flowers was able to share perhaps the most unique perspective of any who stepped to the microphone for a word with Congressman Lincoln Davis at last Friday’s town hall meeting.

Originally from Canada, but now a naturalized United States citizen, Flowers told Davis he had recently seen the result of government imposed healthcare in the treatment of his grandparents.

Offering two examples of the downfalls of Canada’s government run healthcare system Flowers said his grandfather was forced to endure eight months of pain while waiting for knee replacement surgery.  His grandmother, who was just diagnosed with a tumor on her liver, is now waiting to find out what kind of treatment, if any, she will receive.

“These are things that I don’t want to see happen here,” Flowers said, expressing genuine fear regarding the treatment of the aging population under a government run plan. “Please keep the best interest of these folks (senior citizens) in mind when you are up on the hill making decisions.”

Flowers was just one of many who took advantage of the rare opportunity to get an audience with their congressman.

While a number of citizens from Campbell and the surrounding counties conceded that some sort of health care reform is long over due, the majority of people weighing in told Davis they strongly objected to the proposed government run system.

Despite reports of riotous town hall meetings across the country, Friday’s gathering at the Campbell County courthouse proved to be an exception.

The large crowd exercised a great deal of decorum as it waded through the varying statements and questions directed toward Davis during the meeting that lasted more than two hours.

David Skulstad, a military veteran, kicked off the afternoon with questions regarding the government’s ability to effectively manage the country’s healthcare.

“They (the government) cant’ take care of the veterans and they want to take care of everybody else,” Skulstad said posing his remark as more of statement than a question adding that he had been denied treatment for a medical condition at a Veteran’s Administration hospital.

County commissioner Adrion Baird also voiced opposition for the proposed legislation arguing that taking money from Medicare to fund a government option would mean lesser care for seniors.

“This spells out rationing.  There is no way you can cover Medicare at its current funding and take on other people,” Baird told Davis.

Larry Elam also took his opportunity on the floor to point out the shortfalls of government run healthcare within the state.

“If you want to know how socialized medicine will go just take a trip up to Nashville and see what happened to TennCare,” Elam said.

Cade Sexton was among the smattering of people who came out in support of the bill.

“I’ve tried to get something done about healthcare for 40 years and now we’ve finally got a chance to do it,” Sexton told Davis.

Andy Bowman of Lake City raised some eyebrows as he requested government intervention in the healthcare system.

“Socialism, don’t be afraid of it,” Bowman told the crowd as he concluded his remarks.

Others asked Davis to clear up confusion about whether the bill actually has provisions for taxpayer funded abortions, care for illegal immigrants and euthanasia.

After hearing from his constituents Davis took time to offer his insight on the current healthcare situation.

According to Davis, 125 million people are currently being served by Medicare and Medicaid at a cost of $800 billion annually.  The other 135 million Americans spend $1.6 trillion on private insurance.

The congressman asserted that because those receiving Medicare and Medicaid likely experience more health issues and are able to be treated for far less than the healthier population that utilizes private insurance a government option could probably be operated at a much cheaper rate.

“I am not against insurance companies, but we don’t have options anymore,” Davis said suggesting that adding a public option would create more competition between insurance companies.

In an attempt to dispel what he called myths about the bill, Davis said he would stay true to his convictions concerning abortion, immigration and euthanasia.

“If there are provisions in the bill that support tax payer funded abortions I will vote against it.  If there are provisions that provide health care for illegal immigrants or rationing of healthcare I will vote against it,” Davis said adding that he is also opposed to euthanasia, and disqualifying pre-existing conditions.

According to Davis, his decision on the bill remains to be seen.

“I have not made up my mind to vote for it,” Davis explained, offering that he plans to look closely at the information gleaned from his seven town hall meetings before making a final decision on the matter.

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