GAINESVILLE, Ga. – Democrat Josh McCall, who has announced his intention to run against 9th District Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) in 2018, hosted a Town Hall meeting in the Gainesville Civic Center Ballroom Thursday.
An audience estimated to be about 150 attended the event that featured a panel of health care experts including, UGA Foundation Professor of Human Health Dr. Phaedra Corso, Dr. Gale Starich, Dean of Brenau’s College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Rebecca Quigg, a practicing physician and former Congressional candidate in Georgia’s 6th District.
The meeting came on the heels of the U.S. House passing the American Health Care Act that replaces the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. It now moves to the Senate where lawmakers have a chance to write their own version. Collins voted in favor of the new bill.
As a backdrop to last night’s meeting, the Associated Press has reported that consumers will be hit with another round of price hikes and limited choices next year on the market places established by Obamacare as insurance providers continue to exit the marketplace. Major insurers like Aetna and Humana have already dropped out, leading to forecasts of up to a 50 percent increase in premiums in 2018. The ACA was intended to keep prices low by increasing competition.
McCall has staked out a very different position than Collins on the health care issue. He strongly supports government health care and he doubled down on that position at Thursday’s meeting, declaring, “I do support single payer unabashedly. I believe every person has a right to live. Nobody should have to worry about getting sick and losing everything they own.”
In her presentation, Corso said, “Despite the fact that we’re spending so much money on health care, we are not having better health care outcomes than other countries.”
She outlined the elements of the Obamacare she said Republicans want to change, including individual mandates, expansion of Medicaid, (which she called “free federal money,” that only lasts 10 years before states must pick up the entire cost), employee mandates that require employers with 50 or more employees to pay for health care and exchanges, which the Supreme Court ruled could not be made mandatory.
Corso reminded the audience of Obama’s promise that if you like your health insurance you can keep your insurance, which turned out to be a lie. She seemed to excuse his statement by saying, “They had crappy insurance. They thought they had coverage when they didn’t have coverage for anything worthwhile.”
One of the panelists, Jennifer LaRose, spoke about her personal experience with health care. Her son Logan, now 15 months old, was born with two medical abnormalities that required three surgeries by the time he was six months old.
“In a situation like ours, parents should be able to focus on their child not their finances,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to resort to asking friends and family for charity.”
LaRose said her family has benefited from the cap that ACA placed on out-of-pocket expenses. “The maximum for our family was $7,500 and we met that the month Logan was born,” she said.
She said she isn’t certain if she believes in single payer insurance or not but added there are a lot of “what-ifs” with the new legislation. “We can’t afford what-ifs. My feeling about health care is it should be affordable and available to everyone.”
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