Obey listens to health care concerns, desires in reform debateResidents of the 7th Congressional District in Wisconsin had a chance to air their concerns and desires for health care reform during a Monday night telephone forum.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Residents of the 7th Congressional District in Wisconsin had a chance to air their concerns and desires for health care reform during a Monday night telephone forum.
U.S. Rep Dave Obey, D-Wausau, scheduled the district wide forum to give residents a chance to weigh in on legislation proposed by the House of Representatives. More than 13,000 constituents participated in the hour-long conference call.
“I recognize that people are busy and have other things to do in their lives,” said Obey. “And that’s why we appreciate that almost 14,000 people from every corner of the district took time to participate and ask questions about health care. People on both sides of the issue conducted themselves in a civil manner, and that’s the way it should be.”
A woman from Wisconsin Rapids aired her concern for her daughter, a 20-year nursing assistant who was earning less now than when she started because of health care costs. She said her daughter couldn’t even afford the $2,000 out-of-pocket expense for a necessary surgery.
Another woman from Chippewa Falls said she believes there is a silent majority in favor of health care reform. She asked the congressman for guidance so those supporters could make their wishes known.
Obey advised people to become informed about the bills before the house and another being drafted by the senate to make their desires known in letters to the editor and in letters to their representatives.
However, some registered concerns as well – that taxpayer’s might fund abortions, how the federal government would pay for the program with the nation’s growing deficit and that a more incremental approach, that includes torte reform might be a better way to address the problem. Still others questioned the public option for health care and the potential for employers to drop their plans in an effort to cut costs.
Obey said the bills currently under consideration would place a penalty on companies that do that while providing incentives to those that keep their insurance plans.
Margaret Amundson of Lake Nebagamon, a retired nurse with 40 years in the health care industry, questioned Obey on a proposal that would encourage doctors to discuss end of life issues with patients.
Obey said there is no plan for the so-called “death panels.” The proposal would merely provide incentives to doctors who take the time to discuss with their patients the options they have before they face difficult choices at an often confusing time.
New teleconferencing technology allowed Congressman Obey to host this large-scale conference call in which he invited 50,000 constituents to participate. During the call, Obey polled participants on whether or not dental and vision care should be part of a basic health care plan: 61 percent favored that option while 39 percent favored them as an add-on benefit.