Monday, October 5, 2009

Marshall hears from the grassroots during townhall meeting

The Moultrie Observer. U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall fielded questions Saturday about issues ranging from global warming to the war in Afghanistan, but most of the discussion over nearly three hours centered on health care.

Marshall (D-Macon) told the audience of about 55 that he is convinced some overhaul of the country’s health care system is needed or the country will be either broke, unable to meet the crushing expenses of interest payments and current obligations, or see its ability to borrow from other countries dry up due to profligate spending.

“If we don’t do anything, if we leave things like they are, all of the credible economists see the federal government being bankrupt in a decade or two -- three at the most,” he said. “In about 20 years we’re bankrupt.”

At that time those experts predict a $50 trillion debt, with $40 trillion of that attributable to health care costs, Marshall said.

“Our creditors won’t let us get that far,” he said. “We have to do something with this issue pretty soon, or our creditors are going to force us to do something soon.”

Marshall said he is not ready to endorse or support any of the various health care overhaul plans offered so far.

“Nothing that’s on the table right now is sustainable,” he said. “And the current system is not sustainable economically right now.”

In addition, high health care costs eat away at the country’s economic competitiveness, he said.

Eliminating unnecessary expenses alone will not fixi the problem or pay for health care as some have proposed, Marshall said.

“They say we’re going to pay for it (reform) by getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse,” he said. “My question is always, why haven’t we done that already. In my view you aren’t going to get rid of waste, fraud and abuse unless you change the system.”

Marshall said he prefers a market solution, which likely would include higher-deductible health insurance policies, and “helping those who need help.”

Bobby Harnage said that a public option or something similar is needed to provide competition to insurance companies, otherwise they will have no incentives to reduce costs.

“The only way the free market works is competition,” he said during an interview following the meeting. “It doesn’t work unless competition is lacking or eliminated.

“I’m for a public option for two reasons, to guarantee competition and to guarantee those who can’t get coverage are covered.”

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