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Sep 2, 2009 12:26 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bishop holds town hall meeting on health care reform

Sep 2, 2009 12:26 PM

U.S. Representative Tim Bishop continued calling for health care reform at Sachem High School East in Farmingville on Thursday, August 27, but outside the school several hundred protesters rallied in opposition.

The “town hall” meeting was Mr. Bishop’s second since June, when a meeting in Setauket was disrupted by crowds protesting President Barack Obama’s proposal to overhaul the nation’s health care system, among other things.

On Thursday, Mr. Bishop was interrupted numerous times with both boos and cheers as he tried to answer questions from the audience about America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, the reform legislation pending in Congress that he generally supports. At least one man was escorted out of the auditorium by Suffolk County Police and Brookhaven Public Safety officers, who were monitoring the crowd, after a shouting match with another man. No arrests were reported.

Mr. Bishop, a Democrat, said the goal of the legislation is to preserve patient choice of doctors while making affordable health care plans available to more people, possibly through the creation of a government-run health plan, the so-called public option, which would compete with for-profit insurers. Another proposal by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee would create a consumer-run co-op in hopes of giving more people access to less costly health care plans.

“There is no proposal that government take over health care,” Mr. Bishop said.

The rate at which premiums have increased over the years has strained the resources of small and large businesses alike, Mr. Bishop said. The premiums in employer-based health care plans are “one of the burdens that the American industry carries” when compared to industries in countries that have nationalized health care systems, such as Canada, Mr. Bishop said.

“The average insurance policy for a family plan has increased 100 percent in nine years,” he said. “Does anyone really think either industry or families can accommodate another 100-percent increase in nine years from now? Of course not. We need competition and we need a counterweight to the power that private insurers have [over health care costs].”

Once differences between competing versions of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act have been ironed out, Mr. Bishop said he will support the bill only if it “improves on a status quo that most people consider unacceptable.” Congress is expected to take up the issue when it returns to session this month.

“What I am interested in is improving the situation that we have now,” Mr. Bishop said. “I don’t think that any of us consider that the situation that we have now is doing the job that we need it to do in this country.”

Still, following Mr. Bishop’s meeting, hundreds of people from groups including Suffolk County 9/12 Project and Conservative Society for America were outside in the school parking lot chanting “hands off health care” and waving American flags and protest signs.

Some protesters had concerns about the cost of the reforms, which to date are estimated to cost up to $1 trillion over 10 years. Others were concerned about how reforms would be paid for, including proposed tax increases on the rich and possible cuts to Medicare.

Dan Maloney, a Baldwin resident and war veteran, voiced concern that the health care reforms would “bankrupt this country.”

“We’re here to convince Tim Bishop that supporting Obamacare is a big mistake,” Mr. Maloney said. “It’s being done with the highest motives, but the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions, and these guys are taking us down that road.”

Frank Verderber, a Huntington resident and Conservative Society for Action member, echoed a complaint often voiced by critics of health care reform, which is that most Americans are happy with the health care they receive now.

“We do not want government to run the health care system—we want to keep the health care system that we have now,” Mr. Verderber said. “We’re happy with it, 80 percent of the people are happy with it. Don’t change the 80 percent to satisfy the 20 percent who currently don’t have it. It makes no sense.”

Other people, including members from Organizing for America, Mr. Obama’s campaign group, voiced support for a larger government role in the health insurance market.

Orel Protopopescu, a Miller Place resident and Organize for America volunteer, said health care costs will continue to rise, making health care less affordable for more people, if government does not make it stop.

“I don’t know when government started to become a dirty word, but you could hear it tonight in this room,” Ms. Protopopescu said. “These people who shout are anti-government, and yet it’s very strange they don’t have the same level of distrust of the HMOs or the drug companies that are spending millions of dollars to fight this public option. Why? Because they know that once this public option comes, they are not going to be able to compete.”

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"...they have to lose their homes when they lose their jobs because there is no health care for them”

The obvious reason why the vast majority of people in America lose their homes when they lose their jobs is because they can't pay the mortgage and/or property taxes. The net effect of a government program taking yet another trillion dollars out of the job-producing part of our economy is for more people to lose their jobs and, consequently, their homes.
Richard Blumenthal
By RichardBlumenthal (24), Westhampton Beach on Aug 31, 09 8:39 PM
Currently the gov't is not controlling costs. The average "advanced" country is paying 10% of their GDP on healthcare, while we are spending 16% of GDP the cost of healthcare doubled in the past 9 years in this country, the one without controls on costs. If we don't start to control costs, healthcare will bankrupt the country. Yes, initially it will cost more to insure 47 million more people, but something must be done now! We failed to fix healthcare in the 1990's when it cost less than half ...more
By Steve Mc (3), Miller Place on Aug 31, 09 10:51 PM
2 members liked this comment
Mr. Blumenthal, given the ludicrous nature of your response re: health care - No, you should not run. You're assertions regarding Americans losing their homes is simply incorrect. More Americans go bankrupt each year because they cannot pay health care bills (even those with insurance) than for any other reason and, in the end, they lose their homes. The last thing we need is another know-nothing running for office.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 1, 09 12:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
peoplefirst, i challenge you to produce a modicum of evidence to back up what you say. blumenthal is accurate. nobody owes you a thing, now get out there and take care of yourself...people w/ insurance losing their homes from medical bills. get outta here with that nonsense.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 1, 09 6:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Bishop stacked the deck on this town hall meeting. There was a huge effort on Bishop's part to fill the hall with his supporters. E-mails from all the liberal organizations were sent out encouraging them to come early to ensure Obama bill opponents had to wait outside.
All the people opposed to this health care bill had home made signs.
All of those who were in support of Obama's bill were wearing professionally printed shirts & had professionally printed signs. The union guys came out ...more
By golfbuddy (180), hampton bays on Sep 1, 09 8:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mr. Bishop,
Lets start with the first step; all government appointed positions such as yourself and your other constituants (mayors, town supervisors, etc..and all the way up to governor) should forfeit your 100% health care packages (health care, vision, hospital stays, etc) paid for the people of our state, and get on board with the rest of the taxpayers of this state, and pay for health care insurance just like the rest of the working class of NY.
By golfer (7), Southampton on Sep 1, 09 11:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
golfer...in a not so surprising turn of events...Bishop has NEVER taken the gov't plan and has ALWAYS received his health insurance from the private sector. In fact, he has EMPIRE, and loves it. All of his hot air about attacking Empire and the current healthcare system is just that. Hot air. Tim turns to retail, private sector plans to protect his family, and in fact, has a plan that allows him to choose any physician he wants. in the past, he has scoffed at the plan available to him as the ...more
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 2, 09 7:37 AM
Hamptons surfer, I am self-employed and pay for my own insurance for me and my family. I am not asking you or anyone like you for your help, just to get out of the way. If you want to continue stuffing the pockets of corporate insurance, do so. No one cares. Let those who want a choice have one.

America was not built by people like you who only care about your own well-being. In fact, I assert that you and your ilk are the real problem. Ignorance is the real enemy. As for facts, ...more
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 2, 09 12:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Absolutely amazing how many people are willing to believe the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh yet refuse to listen to the FACTS regarding health care reform. Do any of you truly believe that private, for-profit insurance companies are more concerned about your well-being than the government? Private insurance companies make money by denying claims. A public option will survive by keeping you healthy.

Take a look at the salaries and bonuses given to insurance company CEO's http://sickforprofit.com/ceos/ ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Sep 2, 09 12:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
jeeze, its worse than i thought. as many ''facts'' as you can present, i can also present ''facts'' that completely debunk that dopey harvard (i mean c'mon, harvard?) test of 1700 people.




this ...more
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 2, 09 1:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hamptons surfer, yeah you're right. Who could trust the most respected university in America. I quoted an actual study and you quote rebuttals from the Heritage Foundation - the most right-wing, conservative group in the country?! That would be like me quoting the Huffington Post as a source - you'd love that wouldn't you? Come on, dude. That is exactly why your side is going to lose this debate.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 2, 09 2:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
The NYS Insurance Dept. regulates ALL INSURANCE sold in NYS, and has for over a century. Insurance is one of the most, if not the most regulated business in America.

The regulations that required that ALL health insurance in NYS provide basic coverage, be without age differentiation, imposed limited territory rating and required that pre existing conditions be covered after one year.. So the prices soared, and continued to do so for years and years. N OW, substantial deductables have been ...more
By Lost Tribe (66), East Hampton on Sep 2, 09 2:46 PM
2 members liked this comment
Hamptons Surfer, I have to thank you - I often visit a site dedicated to exposing the ridiculous arguments made by the right against health care - I posted your last comment and it is the most popular of the day!
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 2, 09 2:47 PM
that's funny. i already know your comments are misguided...i don't need some stranger to offer up inane vitriol so i feel better. you must've gone to harvard. hahahahahaha.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 2, 09 3:36 PM
Hey lost tribe,

Guess what? Empire did not make a deal with Southampton Hospital. Because there is not a participating hospital within a certain radius of my doctor, Empire has dropped my doctor from their plan as well. So now I have to find a new doctor or pay higher premiums with another insurance company. Sounds a bit like what you're claiming would happen under a public option, doesn't it?

Nationalized health care? We can only hope we'll be so lucky.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 2, 09 5:19 PM
Let's Try Freedom First.

If you're buying insurance for your home, your car, or even life insurance, you can 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 monopoly. If that simple rule were changed by Congress, allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines....

Wherever you move in the ...more
By RichardBlumenthal (24), Westhampton Beach on Sep 2, 09 7:38 PM
Mr. Blumenthal, your proposal has been studied and proven to have the exact opposite effect that you are purporting. In fact, many say that buying insurance across state lines would be a race to the bottom with very few consumer protections.

Sandy Praeger, insurance commissioner for Kansas and president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said, "You’ll have plans that don’t cover the benefits that people need. … And healthy people are going to buy those less costly ...more
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 2, 09 8:12 PM
peoplefirst....you are simply not telling the truth. empire did not drop your doctor. period. nice try.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 2, 09 8:21 PM
hamptons surfer, doctors associated with Southampton Hospital have been dropped by Empire - that includes my doctor. Do a little research and you'll find it to be so. Again, you having nothing of value to contribute beyond calling names and spreading falsehoods. Disappointing, but not surprising.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 2, 09 10:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
hamptons surfer, what is with your insistence on answering facts with accusations? I too can confirm that my doctor has been dropped by Empire and now I must find a new doctor or new insurance.
By dfgmom (8), southampton on Sep 2, 09 10:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
there are doctors that are leaving empire...big difference, but not as useful for argument. this is indeed a fact. there is blame enough to go around for everyone here...very simplistic and naive to try and paint one single party as the bad evil ones. nothing personal folks, just trying to keep it real.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 3, 09 10:43 AM
hamptons surfer, as is always the case, the right has recruited the fearful and ignorant to fight for big corporations and against their own best interests.

The fact is this: Empire has dropped my doctor. Period. Doctors are associated with hospitals. My doctor is associated with Southampton Hospital. Empire has instructed my doctor that they will no longer cover her patients. End of story. This is an easily verifiable fact if you were interested in knowing the truth.

If ...more
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 3, 09 11:30 AM
nope. wrong. and didn't you say you were self employed. would have more money for healthcare if you didn't spend all day on web.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 3, 09 1:58 PM
Yes, I am self-employed and independently wealthy so I can afford to spend my time rebutting lies and fighting for those less fortunate than I.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Sep 3, 09 3:49 PM
if you truly cared you would be paying the medical bills of strangers now rather than waiting. You and your filthy money should be ashamed. People are suffering. But I still love you suga daddy
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 3, 09 10:14 PM
My first died of cancer. It ws a long illness. She had insurance - when exhausted my insurance kicked in. When it was all over I was still $200,000 in debt, even with insurance. I avoided backruptcy by settling with the banks and negotiated a settlement with Sloan-Kettering for the balance owned which they thankfully accepted, as did some of her doctors. Even with "good" insurance a person can go belly up. At that time the hospital and the doctors were willing to accept less - I don't think that's ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Sep 4, 09 3:02 PM
Hamptons Surfer: As Empire Coverage is Now Not Accepted by Hospitals because they lowball (underpay), I don't see how Bishop and his famkly can LOVE his Empire plan because, essentially, he and his family are now uninsured in Suffolk County. You should read the other article on Empire/Alliance dispute which also points out that small business owners covered by Empire now find themselves uninsured and have to go to Nassau County or NYC for in-patient, non-emergency surgey. God Bless Mr. Bishop ...more
By lulubelle1956 (24), Westhampton Beach on Sep 4, 09 10:23 PM
I think healthcare for all would be fantastic! HOWEVER!, all of you who support the bill that is being presented right now, need to watch the following video:

I am so glad someone is paying attention.
By teeteeme (11), Water Mill on Sep 5, 09 12:48 PM
Amen! You said it all. Now if people would just be quiet, listen with an open mind, heart and forget their political party for a second.. I think they too, would start seeing that what WE are saying makes so much sense. They just can't believe that this can happen right under their noses, the good ole' USA!! Well, today is the day to wake up America, because it is happening, and you better pay attention. The pieces are all there, you just have to put them together, and its not hard to do. Believe ...more
By teeteeme (11), Water Mill on Sep 8, 09 4:50 AM