Locals Speak Out On Healthcare Reform

August 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Both sides of the healthcare reform debate have been busy trying to shape public opinion. The issue has already led to some heated exchanges during the congressional recess.Democratic Congressman Jim Costa of Fresno talked about the need for healthcare reform during a Fresno Rotary Club luncheon on Monday. Costa told club members, "Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security - if we do nothing, by the year 2030 will consume 100-percent of our nation's budget."

Costa did not take any questions from the audience but did want to clear up what he calls "misinformation" regarding President Obama's healthcare reform plan. He said, "First of all we're not going to have a single-payer plan. The fact that we're going to socialize healthcare in America, again, is neither in the House versions of the bill. Neither is it in the Senate version of the bill."

But Dr. A.P. Sidhu disagrees. Sidhu said, "I think this plan is going very close to socialized medicine. It gives a lot more control to the government to control how the physicians will practice, how they will make their decisions."

Dr. Sidhu heads the Fresno County Republican Party. He says the Obama plan doesn't address key issues such as liability and over-regulation. Sidhu explained, "The whole talk I'm hearing is how do we cover the uninsured. Nobody is talking about people who are buying into their insurance. How do we make their premiums go down?"

Some town hall meetings have been marred by clashes between opposing sides. Congressman Costa and Dr. Sidhu disagree on who's behind the disruptions. Costa said, "It seems to me that in some instances it's clearly been orchestrated." But Sidhu countered, "I don't think it's a planned effort. People are frustrated."

Costa knows passage of a reform plan would require the support of medical providers like Dr. Sidhu, who at this point is not interested. Sidhu said, "They're trying to give us a credit card that cannot be used anywhere."

Congressman Costa believes a health reform plan can get passed in November or December. But such a plan would probably be more modest and incremental than the one currently being discussed.

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