Bishop Forum Underscores Healthcare Divide

Posted on 08 September 2009

healthcare2

The debate over federal health care reform has found its way to the East End, with a rally held last night in East Hampton and another planned for Saturday at Marine Park in Sag Harbor. The division among residents of Long Island over the issue was clear at a town hall style meeting held by Congressman Tim Bishop last week at Sachem East High School.

Moderated by Southampton Town Justice and Sag Harbor resident Andrea Schiavoni, the forum was attended by a rowdy crowd of just under 900 that booed, hissed, cheered and interrupted speakers and the congressman during an over two-hour session devoted to the controversial debate on Capitol Hill. That debate is expected to resume when Congress returns to session later this month.

Similar to an event held in Setauket earlier this summer, crowds of protestors with placards in hand, protested President Barack Obama’s initiative to reform the nation’s health care system with an equal amount of supporters of the plan lending their voices to the debate at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the House Committee on Education and Labor website, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, the legislation Congressman Bishop has supported, would seek to set coverage standards for insurance companies on a state-by-state basis and would aim to curtail double digit percent increases in the cost of private health care. A public health insurance option is also a key portion of the bill. The legislation would also seek to prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing health conditions, although that practice is already illegal in the State of New York. Medicaid eligibility would also be expanded if the bill were passed, which would be federally financed and employers would be required to either provide health care to their employees or pay into a fund on their behalf. Small businesses with payrolls that do not exceed $250,000 would be exempt from that provision.

Several versions of the bill have been debated with final legislation yet to be hammered out.

Bishop opened the meeting noting he has spent “90 percent” of his recess talking with residents of the First Congressional District about health care. He said without exception he has found the discussions to be “productive, informative and civil” and had similar hopes for Thursday’s event.

“This is an incredibly important issue that affects each and every one of us,” said Bishop.

When asked how he could consider supporting the bill with the country in such dire financial straits, Bishop vowed he was “committed to not support a bill that is fully paid for,” but added it was crucial to move the bill out of committee and into the full consideration of the House of Representatives.

“Taxpayers should not have to pay for insurance company profits,” added Bishop, noting private insurance companies receive subsidies from the federal government despite profit increases in the face of premium increases.

During the meeting, Bishop noted that premiums have increased at a rate small and large businesses alike are unable to contend with. He said premiums for the average private insurance family plan has increased 100 percent in less than a decade, a burden the nation’s residents will not be able to accommodate in another decade.

Smithtown resident Lucia Cassidy charged that the bill would allow the government, in the form of a health care commission, to decide the benefits and treatment she received.

“Where are my choices, my freedoms,” she asked. “This is America.”

“You have asked if I support the government choosing what doctor you should have,” replied Bishop. “I absolutely do not. I should also tell you there is not a single word in the bill that tells you what doctor you can have.”

“New York State has minimum standards for what constitutes minimum coverage for private insurers,” explained Bishop, noting the commission would have the ability to define what minimum coverage is in all states. Breast health exams and colonoscopies, for example, have to be covered by insurance in New York, said Bishop and this would expand that requirement to the rest of the country.

With Schiavoni often needing to interrupt speakers and the congressman attempting to gain control of the floor, Bishop continued to be peppered by questions — from whether the bill would force a Wading River 11-year old’s grandmother off life support, to the lack of current health care coverage for those who have lost work in the face of debilitating medical conditions. Several speakers demanded the federal government keep its hands off health care, while others praised Bishop for trying to find a solution to the health care problem facing the country.

On the East End, residents are also organizing to keep the debate about health care reform raging, with two events planned locally this week. Last night, East Hampton residents gathered for a vigil on Main Street in East Hampton calling for a public health care option. According to Sag Harbor resident and activist Michael O’Neill, this is one of several planned nationwide.

On Saturday, residents in Sag Harbor are hosting a Health Care Walk and Rally. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. at Long Beach in Noyac and travel to Marine Park in the center of the village where a rally will be held at 11 a.m.

The debate over federal health care reform has found its way to the East End, with a rally held last night in East Hampton and another planned for Saturday at Marine Park in Sag Harbor. The division among residents of Long Island over the issue was clear at a town hall style meeting held by Congressman Tim Bishop last week at Sachem East High School.

Moderated by Southampton Town Justice and Sag Harbor resident Andrea Schiavoni, the forum was attended by a rowdy crowd of just under 900 that booed, hissed, cheered and interrupted speakers and the congressman during an over two-hour session devoted to the controversial debate on Capitol Hill. That debate is expected to resume when Congress returns to session later this month.

Similar to an event held in Setauket earlier this summer, crowds of protestors with placards in hand, protested President Barack Obama’s initiative to reform the nation’s health care system with an equal amount of supporters of the plan lending their voices to the debate at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the House Committee on Education and Labor website, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, the legislation Congressman Bishop has supported, would seek to set coverage standards for insurance companies on a state-by-state basis and would aim to curtail double digit percent increases in the cost of private health care. A public health insurance option is also a key portion of the bill. The legislation would also seek to prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing health conditions, although that practice is already illegal in the State of New York. Medicaid eligibility would also be expanded if the bill were passed, which would be federally financed and employers would be required to either provide health care to their employees or pay into a fund on their behalf. Small businesses with payrolls that do not exceed $250,000 would be exempt from that provision.

Several versions of the bill have been debated with final legislation yet to be hammered out.

Bishop opened the meeting noting he has spent “90 percent” of his recess talking with residents of the First Congressional District about health care. He said without exception he has found the discussions to be “productive, informative and civil” and had similar hopes for Thursday’s event.

“This is an incredibly important issue that affects each and every one of us,” said Bishop.

When asked how he could consider supporting the bill with the country in such dire financial straits, Bishop vowed he was “committed to not support a bill that is fully paid for,” but added it was crucial to move the bill out of committee and into the full consideration of the House of Representatives.

“Taxpayers should not have to pay for insurance company profits,” added Bishop, noting private insurance companies receive subsidies from the federal government despite profit increases in the face of premium increases.

During the meeting, Bishop noted that premiums have increased at a rate small and large businesses alike are unable to contend with. He said premiums for the average private insurance family plan has increased 100 percent in less than a decade, a burden the nation’s residents will not be able to accommodate in another decade.

Smithtown resident Lucia Cassidy charged that the bill would allow the government, in the form of a health care commission, to decide the benefits and treatment she received.

“Where are my choices, my freedoms,” she asked. “This is America.”

“You have asked if I support the government choosing what doctor you should have,” replied Bishop. “I absolutely do not. I should also tell you there is not a single word in the bill that tells you what doctor you can have.”

“New York State has minimum standards for what constitutes minimum coverage for private insurers,” explained Bishop, noting the commission would have the ability to define what minimum coverage is in all states. Breast health exams and colonoscopies, for example, have to be covered by insurance in New York, said Bishop and this would expand that requirement to the rest of the country.

With Schiavoni often needing to interrupt speakers and the congressman attempting to gain control of the floor, Bishop continued to be peppered by questions — from whether the bill would force a Wading River 11-year old’s grandmother off life support, to the lack of current health care coverage for those who have lost work in the face of debilitating medical conditions. Several speakers demanded the federal government keep its hands off health care, while others praised Bishop for trying to find a solution to the health care problem facing the country.

On the East End, residents are also organizing to keep the debate about health care reform raging, with two events planned locally this week. Last night, East Hampton residents gathered for a vigil on Main Street in East Hampton calling for a public health care option. According to Sag Harbor resident and activist Michael O’Neill, this is one of several planned nationwide.

On Saturday, residents in Sag Harbor are hosting a Health Care Walk and Rally. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. at Long Beach in Noyac and travel to Marine Park in the center of the village where a rally will be held at 11 a.m.


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4 Responses to “Bishop Forum Underscores Healthcare Divide”

  1. This guy walks into a bank and says, “I only earn $20,000 a year, but could you loan me $120,000?” Sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? I’m sorry to say that, in those same proportions, the man seeking the loan is Uncle Sam.

    Our current representative has spent so much money that, if he’s not reversed, he will have effectively handcuffed the future of our country’s economy. Here’s what I mean. The federal government’s debt is nearly 12 trillion dollars. But, you may say, the IRS rakes in so much cash. Just look at the salary I start with versus what I actually get in my paycheck. Well, how much do you think the IRS collects in a year? The sad fact is, it’s only around 2 trillion a year. That’s right. In a whole year we collect 2, and he’s already almost 12 in debt, with no end in sight!

    Now he wants to borrow trillions more in a government takeover of health insurance to solve problems that are, ironically, largely caused by the government.

    Let’s try freedom first.

    If you’re buying insurance for your home, your car, or even life insurance, you are free to choose from any plan offered in the USA, regardless of where the insurance company is located. Incredibly, this is not true for health insurance! Right now, you can only buy from the state where you live, giving those companies a virtual monopoly. If that simple rule were changed by Congress, allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines….

    Wherever you move in the USA, you could bring your insurance with you;

    Greatly increased competition between companies would force lower premiums;

    The giant pool of all Americans would make it possible to create new products to fit individual needs;

    More families could afford health insurance! Expansion of the health care industry would create jobs;

    All without spending a dime of taxpayer money!

    Richard Blumenthal
    http://shouldirun.com
    “Plan from Strength”

  2. Phil on L.I. says:

    Allowing the buying of insurance across state lines will cause companies based in stes with lower coverage standards to flood the markets of larger staes crowding out competition by offering affordable policies to the young and healthy and leaving the more at-risk policyseekers only higher priced options-a form of genetic profiling.There will be no guarantee that anyone who is over fifty will have better options.
    A public option will offer more choice since you will still have the opportunity to buy insurance from one of the bigger profit based companies that wish to pad their executives income and pay investors out of your premiums if you choose not to participate.
    Why all the talk about private insurance not being able to compete with a public option?Because they can’t-a public option ll expose the extent of their ridiculous profits.

  3. Average Man says:

    The 15 million or so uninsured need coverage. So all of us have to get new insurance? Lets see if I got this right. My apartment building has 100 windows. 15 of them are broken. So instead of replacing 15 windows, we will replace all 100? Puhlease.
    See you in DC on the 12th!

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