Mountain View Voice

News - August 28, 2009

Second 'telephone town hall' goes smoothly

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo holds series of phone-only meetings on health care — and a live meeting next week

by Palo Alto Weekly and Staff Reports

A second "telephone town hall" held Monday evening by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo went smoothly and won praise from callers in Palo Alto, Mountain View and other parts of the 14th Congressional District.

Eshoo's staff seemed to have worked out some of the kinks after the first meeting, held on Wednesday of last week, failed to connect some callers. Eshoo said that meeting was a success, however, with more than 7,000 participants.

She also announced this week that she has scheduled a face-to-face forum on health care issues for Wednesday, Sept. 2, at Gunn High School in Palo Alto.

Meanwhile, two more "telephone town hall" meetings were planned for Thursday, Aug. 27, after the Voice went to press. District residents could sign up for the meetings — held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and from 6:40 to 7:40 p.m. — by filling out an online form on Eshoo's Web site.

Responding to questions Monday, Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, defended the need for health care reform and said that much of the added costs will be offset by savings by making health care delivery more efficient and rational.

During last week's meeting, Eshoo elaborated on why she endorses the much-discussed "public option."

"I'm four-square for it and let me tell you why," she said. "I believe that in the reforms that need to be done, the public option will bring about competition — competition between private health plans and the government-run but nonprofit health care plan. The public option will be government-run, but it is a nonprofit plan that will be available to people by the Exchange.

"Like Medicare, it will not be funded by government subsidies, but solely by premiums it collects, like private plans do. I think it will bring about real competition — will bring about cost savings. It will give people a choice, and the public option will be required to follow the same regulations that are placed on private insurance companies, including staying financially solvent.

"The whole issue of lowering health care costs and improving efficiencies and driving costs down are absolutely essential. If we don't bring the costs down that are part of the overall health-care system in our country, it could bankrupt our country."

Eshoo added: "I think it would be a march to folly if in fact the public option were dropped."

The congresswoman also provided an overview on the current state of health care reform as it works its way through the House.

"There are three House committees that have responsibility over the issue of health care," she said. "Each committee wrote its own section of legislation and passed it. Now these three versions have to be melded into one bill to be considered by the full House when the House reconvenes next month." Eshoo is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the three committees charged with drafting portions of the bill.

In response to earlier press reports that she hadn't scheduled a town hall session on health care, Eshoo said she has held more face-to-face town halls on public issues than almost any other member of Congress.

INFORMATION:

The face-to-face "Health Care Town Hall Meeting," hosted by Anna Eshoo, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Gunn High School's Spangenberg Theatre, 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto. More information is available on Eshoo's Web site, eshoo.house.gov.

Comments

Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 28, 2009 at 10:36 am

I hope this is just a case of poor reporting. It quotes Eshoo as saying about a Public Plan "Like Medicare, it will not be funded by government subsidies, but solely by premiums it collects, like private plans do."

ALL experts agree that Medicare is going broke because the premiums will NOT cover the cost of care. A public plan based on the current Medicare model is not financially possible - more taxes are needed to pay for it. And common sense (plus Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) shows that any government subsidized plan will over time drive out private competition - usually after forcing them into crazy business practices and thus harming everyone.

So Rep Eshoo - Lets get honest and practical. What you are really proposing is an eventual single-payer system like Canada or UK.

That is ok. That is probably better than what we have today. But please don't lie to us about an "option", and how that in order to fund that option or any plan means changing both how Medicare will work and how we pay for it.

We need - and deserve - the truth.






Posted by wondering, a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Concerned:

I like your message here. Are you saying it's impossible for health care to have a public and private model in direct competition, the way, say, the USPS and FedEx are?

I don't know a lot about the complexities of health care and am asking out of honest curiosity.


Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 28, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Wondering, there's a lot of confusion because the word "insurance" has lost most of its actual meaning in this public debate. The idea behind insurance is that a bunch of people pool their risk, and, if the occurrence of bad outcomes is low enough within that group, the insurance company makes a profit. Or, at least, in the case of a non-profit, doesn't go broke.

Any public plan that signs a lot of people on that we already know are going to have lots of medical expenses (i.e. old people, people with pre-existing conditions) is not really insurance, even if some people call it that. It is really taxpayer-supported health care assistance.

Any private insurance company that really is in the insurance business has to limit the number of high-risk customers it takes on.

So, it doesn't make sense to talk about public and private plans being in competition. They are apples and oranges. Private insurance companies, if allowed to truly exist as insurance companies, are trying to achieve a different goal than public health care.

Now, let's forget that you phrased your question in terms of competition. Could public and private co-exist. Yeah, they could. They could even complement each other if we got the details right. I don't think Obama is getting the details right at all, but that's another conversation.


Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 28, 2009 at 10:03 pm

So, what do I think are the two biggest things we need to fix about our health care system:

* Insurance is tied to employment. We should extend the same level of health insurance purchase tax breaks to individuals that are extended to businesses. We remove barriers to buying insurance across state lines. And we should remove a bunch of stifling regulations and limits related to pre-tax health care savings, so that insurance can be used only for its original purpose of covering big, unexpected expenses.

* People need to be able to save up a significant amount of wealth for old age. To make that possible, we need to shrink government, we need to stop draining wealth out of the economy for foreign wars, corporate bailouts, the war on drugs, etc.


Posted by Leonard Stone, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 31, 2009 at 6:25 am

Reforming healthcare is an important effort. It is not up to the Federal government to address it. It is up to the states and the people. The 1,000 page bill currently being proposed in the Congress is not reforming healthcare. It will create an entirely new system. The only competition created by the government, is by the inefficiencies of the public systems, being offset by the efficiencies private systems.

Tort reform would reform healthcare. Changing all healthcare to individual policies would reform healthcare. Eliminating government mandates in insurance policies would reform healthcare.

This is an effort to increase the power of the Federal government.


Posted by Steve, a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 31, 2009 at 9:18 am

Steady on you all, this is starting to sound like incoherent right-wing ranting that the editor of this paper dislikes so much!


Posted by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor
on Aug 31, 2009 at 10:43 am

Don Frances is a registered user.

To the contrary, Steve, this is an excellent conversation.

I don't want to agree with everything people post on Town Square -- far from it. I just want the posts to be rational and civil. This one is great ... carry on!


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