SOUTHINGTON - Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson stopped by Derynoski Elementary School Tuesday to discuss the health care debate with town residents and outline his proposals.
About two dozen residents, mostly seniors, gathered in the school’s auditorium to hear Larson and share their own opinions and concerns.
Larson called the Republican health care plan the “largest shift of taxation onto the middle class from the wealthiest people in the country.” He also said 24 million people would lose their coverage.
“This proposal will have little to do with health care other than to fulfill a campaign promise to do away with Obamacare,” said Larson.
Larson argued that “despite its flaws” what the Affordable Care Act did right was letting children stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, established caps on insurance costs and prevented insurers from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.
“Women used to be discriminated against because pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition,” said Larson.
Larson said he believes the Republican health care plan has a “slim chance” of passing the Senate.
He proposed fixing health care by lowering Medicaid accessibility to 50, making coverage under the Affordable Care Act more affordable to the middle class and reinstating federal reinsurance to reduce costs overall and stabilize the marketplace. He also proposed creating a bipartisan advisory committee with experts in the field who would make recommendations for lowering long-terms costs.
As Larson outlined this proposal a resident in attendance, Don Geckle, challenged him.
“You don’t have a prayer of getting that through,” he said. “We have a Republican everything.”
Larson contended that a free market solution to health care will not work.
“In 1965 seniors couldn’t be covered because insurance companies couldn’t make a profit,” he said. “So we had to turn to government and so Medicare now covers people over 65.”
Larson noted that he would support taking steps toward “universal health care” but that he didn’t think that would happen now because “elections have consequences.”
“Republicans decided to resist at all costs but I don’t think we should do that,” he said. “We should propose solutions and be allowed to work together to provide people with the health care they need.”
After outlining his proposals, Larson took questions.
When a resident demanded a “yes or no” on if he was willing to go all the way right away on universal health care, Larson asked if the resident would be willing to tell 40,000 people in the insurance industry they had no jobs.
Larson reiterated that he wanted to get to universal health care in increments.
“I’m gonna be dead in increments,” said a woman. “I owned a small business and paying $300,000 for health care killed my business. Now I can’t get a job because I’m over 65.”
“We don’t have the votes; that’s reality,” replied Larson. “Elections have consequences. We’re not going to get a vote until we have an election.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.