Health care concerns raised at town hall

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A town hall session held by U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott drew an audience of a couple of hundred to King’s Fork Middle School on Monday. The congressman invited residents from across Hampton Roads to the open session to understand his opposition of GOP plans to replace the Affordable Care Act.

He cited the Congressional Budget Office American Healthcare Act of 2017 report that stated while federal deficits would be reduced by $119 billion over the next decade, the number of uninsured Americans would increase by 23 million if the health care act were repealed.

“A lot of people have described this (the Republican-generated alternative) not as a health care bill, but as a tax cut paid for by cutting people’s health care,” Scott said.


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He argued that the quality of coverage would suffer as states sought to limit essential needs, such as maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs and mental health services.

Insurers would be able to charge more for those with pre-existing conditions, and an “age tax” on Americans ages 50 to 64 would drastically increase their premium costs, he said.

“You talk to anybody that’s supporting Trump Care and you ask, what good is it going to do for anybody,” Scott said.

Republican congressmen have passed a replacement bill in the House and are attempting to pass a similar bill in the Senate before the August recess, but Scott said he and his fellow Democrats would resist.

“Democrats will participate if you are trying to improve health care,” Scott said. “We’re not going to help them go backwards.”

More than a dozen in attendance took the opportunity to approach the microphone in the school auditorium and express their concerns about the uneasy state of health care.

Dr. Craig Derkay of Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, expressed his concern about the “fake news” that more doctors are no longer treating patients covered by Medicaid, which would lose billions of dollars under GOP plans.

“Doctors at King’s Daughters will never turn away a child or their family that need care,” Derkay said.

Other speakers voiced concerns over the rising cost of health care under the Affordable Care Act. Scott acknowledged that changes need to be made to adjust to those increases, but not by getting rid of the law entirely and replacing it with what he said would be a worse plan.

Portsmouth resident Robert Collins agreed that any replacement should have better and more affordable care before doing away with the Affordable Care Act.

“Sponsors of American health care programs shouldn’t just be trying to throw out the baby with the bath water,” Collins said.

There were also frustrations about the partisan politics that have led to a standoff in Washington, with neither party meeting in the middle.

“We should be working together,” Collins said.

Scott said he would stand with his fellow Democrats and only work with the GOP on improving ACA, not on abolishing it and replacing it “blindly.”

“You can’t say Obamacare has problems, then blindly vote for a bill,” Scott said.

Suffolk resident LeeAnn Reeder said she agreed with the outrage over the GOP plans. She also, however, made it clear that she was tired of the partisan politics and gridlock on health care.

“Please be like our Founding Fathers and work together,” she said.

Two of her six children have cystic fibrosis, with treatments supported by Medicaid. She said she wants health care improvements for her children and others in her family, but neither Democrats or Republicans are willing to set aside partisanship and make things better.

“My biggest fear is that nothing will change, and my greatest hope is that it will,” she said.