U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop told more than 530 people at a town hall meeting he had not made up his mind on how he would vote on health care reform legislation.
“My vote doesn’t belong to Nancy Pelosi and it doesn’t belong to Barack Obama,” the eight-term Georgia Democrat said during sharp questioning from many people with concerns about sweeping reform under consideration in Congress that would overhaul the nation’s health care delivery system. “It belongs to the people in the second district of Georgia.”
Wednesday morning amid heavy security, it was Bishop’s turn to face voters as the national debate on health care reform intensifies.
Bishop, closely aligned with President Obama as his Georgia campaign co-chairman a year ago, tried to avoid the shouting matches that were made-for-television scenes at other town hall meetings across the country.
In a calm, measured voice and almost without interruption, the congressman addressed his constituents for about 45 minutes. His practiced speech touched upon many of the features outlined in the bill to include coverage and choice, affordability, shared responsibility, controlling costs, work force investments and prevention and wellness.
There were about 40 law enforcement and security personnel at the meeting from the Columbus Police Department, Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, Muscogee County Marshal’s Office and museum security staff.then over in Fort Valley, at Ft. Valley St. University,
the congressman cautioned, however, that such reform must be done in a fiscally responsible way. Bishop said that a massive overhaul of health care in the United States should not be done hastily, and legislators need to do so without adding to the federal deficit.
Bishop said that, currently, citizens are paying dearly for health care across the board — from individuals with pre-existing conditions being denied insurance, to small business owners forced to reduce staff sizes because of increasing coverage costs.
About 68,000 people in the Second Congressional District, which Bishop represents, are uninsured, according to information distributed by his office.
After Bishop addressed the crowd, he took questions about the proposed changes ranging from concerns about funding to how private and public options will compete against each other.