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Brown gets earful from both sides in health care debate

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

U.S. Rep. Henry Brown was the guest speaker at a Waccamaw Neck Republican Club meeting last week, but he spent much of the meeting listening to what others had to say.

Health care reform took center stage, and tempers flared as the audience expressed a variety of views and ideas about what needs to be done to the United States’ health care system.

“A public option is going to make our entire system a disaster,” said Dr. Brian Adler, an internist who practices in Surfside Beach. “All of you have paid money, you’ve worked hard, you’ve had Medicare income taken out. Basically, what the public option is all about is taking away what you have earned and distributing it to those who have not earned it.”

While proponents of a public option argue that every American should receive the same quality of health care, he told about 250 people who gathered for the meeting at Applewood House of Pancakes that “Cadillc-level medical services” are not entitlement.

Outside the restaurant, about a dozen protestors carried signs in support of a public option. When people inside expressed ideas that were unpopular with the audience, such as treating illegal immigrants, there were shouts of “throw the Democrat out” and “I think you’re at the wrong meeting.”

Dr. Eric Heiden of True Blue, a semi-retired dentist, didn’t garner much crowd support with his idea to improve public health departments and veterans’ hospitals, and better utilize those facilities.

“They could be renovated to state-of-the-art facilities with a one-time capital investment,” he said. He believes that would reduce the number of people who visit emergency rooms and, as a result, would lower insurance premiums.

Eleanor Schiller compared the existing system to a dress with part of the hem ripped out. “Do you throw it out? No, but that’s what they’ve done with health care,” she said. “Why don’t we just fix what’s wrong? The whole thing is not wrong.”

Randle Stevens of Surfside Beach said he’d like to see insurance companies compete nationwide instead of state to state.

“This is a free enterprise country,” he said. “Competition breeds better prices.”

Brown said he supports that and it is included in the Empowering Patients First Act, which he co-sponsored. The act would allow patients to control their health care decisions, something several people at the meeting said is very important to them. Brown said it’s imperative.

“You’ve got to be able to continue to select your doctor,” he said. “Under the plan [the Democrats] are talking about, you will have a bureaucrat between you and your doctor and [the government] will determine if you need a procedure. I don’t think we can allow that.

“The president is saying his plan will allow you to keep you doctor,” he continued. “Do you know how long? Five years.”

That’s not acceptable, Brown said.

The Empowering Patients First Act would also provide access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans, he said, by extending the income tax deduction on health care premiums to those who purchase coverage in an individual market.

“If we could allow small businesses and individuals the same opportunities as large corporations,” Brown said, that would go a long way toward correcting inequities in the existing health care system.

The act would promote healthier lifestyles by offering incentives to those who make healthy choices.

William Durling of River Club asked how the public could help get the act passed.

“We need more Americans who think like we do and more people in Congress who think like you do,” he told Brown. “How do we do that?”

Brown encouraged the group to spread the word to family and friends.

“A lot of y’all come form some place else,” he said, encouraging them to talk to folks back home, as well.

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