by John LaFollette
The ‘Ville Voice Correspondent
In his opening remarks before the town hall meeting he hosted Wednesday night at Central High School to talk about health care reform, John Yarmuth said, “This isn’t about me.”
For all the bad news he bore — to mostly antithetical ears, at that — he might as well have been saying, “Don’t kill the messenger.”
In the course of the 90-minute question and answer session, Yarmuth told his constituents that Congress is adding too much to the national debt, that he didn’t know how Congress would wind up paying for the sweeping health care reforms that it drafted, and that national insurance providers would never insure Kentuckians because they are the least healthy citizenry in the country.
Some of Yarmuth’s answers — to questions asking about his support for a single-payer plan, on the one hand, and about the Democratic party’s “war on freedom,” on the other — drew a mix of applause and booing, but most were met with emphatically negative reactions.
And when he gave responses that were actually, objectively true, like the inclusion in House bill 3200 of a provision for tort reform to protect doctors from unfounded malpractice suits, there were shouts of “He’s lying!” and murmurs that sounded like audible eye-rolling.
The same people who roared with approval when a questioner asked about alternative, “free market” solutions, booed with indignation when Yarmuth said he favored increased competition among insurance companies.
Yarmuth’s candor about the health care system’s dire straits was probably directed at those folks — the crowd that hears what they want, when they want to — in the hopes of convincing them that the future cost of doing nothing now will be far more painful than changes to the system, even in times as tough as these.
And it might have worked. L. Pottinger, who said she went into the town hall meeting against the House’s reform plan, said afterward that she had some more research to do. The meeting was informative, at least, she said. “I got a lot of the questions I had answered,” she said, which is a start.
Pottinger is still concerned, though, about the system’s ability to absorb an influx of newly-insured patients and about how the reforms will be paid for. Her prediction: that we’ll adopt health care reforms piecemeal and not as part of sweeping legislation, which Yarmuth has said is a realistic possibility.
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