U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall told Tift Regional Medical Center managers and medical staff members Tuesday during a health care reform update that he doesn’t support any legislation that will put the country into deeper financial debt.
The Democrat is in his fourth term as representative for Georgia’s eighth congressional district. He said that Capitol police had advised members of Congress not to hold town hall meetings because of heated members of the public and protesters and the possibility of danger.
“To hell with that,” Marshall said. “I’m going to have a couple of town hall meetings.”
Marshall said he had a town hall meeting scheduled for tonight in Forsysth and another Monday in Warner Robins. Several members of the Tiftarea Tea Patriots lined 20th Street and other pathways to the hospital Tuesday and held signs in protest of Obama’s health reform plans and other issues.
Marshall, who said that he wasn’t an expert in health care issues and knew more about finances, said that he didn’t support any of the three bills currently being considered in the House of Representatives or the two being considered in the Senate. He said that in the current economic crises, if the national debt keeps increasing at the same rate it is now, it would be $50 trillion in two or three decades and $40 trillion of that debt would be associated with healthcare. “If we don’t take care of the long-term fiscal mess we are in, I’m not for it,” Marshall said.
Marshall said that he believed there would be some version of health care reform, but it would be a scaled down version and would have to be acceptable to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans to be passed.
Marshall said that calls to his office had increased from approximately 2,000 per month to 4,000 per month since Barack Obama took office and that he had instructed his staff to respond to callers asking about how he felt about the president’s bill as simply that he won’t support legislation that is fiscally irresponsible and that he wants to keep things that are working and fix the things that aren’t.
In response to the issue of government-backed end-of-life counseling being heatedly debated, Marshall said he believed that everyone should have living wills, medical directives and powers of attorney set so that their end-of-life wishes would be known by all.
Marshall then travel south to Colquitt Co. & told a group of Moultrie physicians Tuesday that he likely would not vote for any significant health reform plan that does not rein in future costs.
Under current projections, said Marshall, D-Macon, the country would be in debt to the tune of $50 trillion in 30 years, with $40 trillion of that attributable to medical payments.
“We need to fix the fiscal mess, not just health care,” said Marshall, who met Tuesday afternoon with a group of physicians and medical officials at Colquitt Regional Medical Center. “If we don’t take that opportunity to fix the really bad fiscal course we’re on, we can’t call it reform. If we’re going to do something grand that’s not going to address the fiscal (issues) I’m probably not going to vote for it.”
Jim Lowry, president and CEO at CRMC, presented a health care reform model to Marshall that included a federal single-payment system that includes payroll deductions, Medicare for retirees, and Medicaid and tax subsidies for the indigent and working poor. Optional federal and state sales taxes could subsidize costs related to those who require a disproportionate amount of care such as those who engage in high-risk and unhealthy behaviors.
The plan presented would create state health care authorities that would control cost as well as assure quality and access. Responsibilities would include establishing a “core public healthcare insurance plan,” contracting and funding managed-care companies, establishing a network of providers, monitoring and supervision, and tort reform, among other things.
In an interview following the meeting, Marshall, asked whether Veterans Administration care for veterans, described by many as socialistic, is effective, said that attaching labels is not helpful.
“(In) patient satisfaction surveys the Veterans Administration beats everybody, and that is government-provided health care” said Marshall, a Vietnam veteran. “This is a regulated, free-market economy. That’s not going to change. It’s been shown time and time again to be the best way to get results.”