Thursday, August 13, 2009

Healthcare debate goes to Tifton where Johnny Isakson spoke as well as protest

TIFTON — U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) told people who attended a town hall meeting Tuesday at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center that the country’s health care debate is a philosophical battle. Meanwhile, on 20th Street near Tift Regional Medical Center, protesters demonstrated against “socialist health care.”

About 80 people attended the town hall meeting, which was held after Isakson attended the opening of the annual bioenergy conference in another part of the building. Isakson, in Tifton as part of visits around the state during the Senate’s August recess, said, “The question is whether the government should make health care an entitlement and a right or should the government establish a level playing field for private providers.”

Isakson said it took 67 1/2 hours over a 4 1/2-week period to read the bill in Senate chambers and that the current bill in the Senate establishes a government option as an alternative to private insurers and would expand Medicare to cover more people. The bill still has to come before the finance committee, but it is estimated that it would cost $1.3 trillion to fund.

Isakson said he would like to see the self-employed, independent contractors and farmers, among others, able to access affordable health care by forming associations and purchasing the insurance in a private market, but health care is expensive and usually doesn’t cover existing conditions, he said.

“Older people are afraid there will be rationing of health care. Younger people are afraid they’ll have to wait in line for health care or that we’ll have health care systems like the ones in Canada or Great Britain,” he said. “I think the vast rank and file of voters are just very concerned.”

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