Chris Pastore

Upper Dublin, PA

Town Hall meeting reflections

I attended Dr. Dachowski’s town hall meeting on health care last night in Lower Moreland.  As a reminder, Damian Dachowski is running for US Congress in our 13th district against incumbent Allyson Scwhartz.

The room was full – the parking lot was overwhelmed – people were parking several  blocks away.  In general there appeared to be two groups of attendees:  the majority who wanted to hear what the panel had to say and participate in the discussion, and a small vocal group who simply wanted to shout down whatever was said.  I didn’t realize prior to this event that the topic of health care was so polarizing and that opinions would be held prior to discussion of issues.  There were about 4 people with signs for Schwartz in the back of the room, and maybe 3 in seats holding signs saying things like “public option now” or “health care for america now.”

On the one hand I was pleased to see that this would have the potential to generate conversation and discussion, but I was a bit taken aback that some seemed to anticipate that they would disagree with whatever was said in advance.

I don’t think this topic is about political affiliation, I think it is about what is the best more forward to help America meet its health care needs in a sensible, responsible, and appropriate manner.

One of the speakers spoke wisely when he said that this should not be about change for the sake of change – this should be about better. Surprisingly he received some negative noises from the sign wielding audience.  I thought it was a completely non-partisan statement that all would believe.

There were two principle themes that came up from the panel.  One is that loss of competition in the health service industry has the potential to decrease services.  The other is that the plan forward to protect the currently uninsured should be done thoughtfully and carefully.  As aspect to the second point is that the current bill has some aspects that are questionable.

Damian laid out his key points that he would like to see in regard to health cre improvement.  They are:

  • Create interstate competition among health insurance companies
  • Encourage health promotion and disease prevention
  • Modernize long-term care options
  • End tax discrimination against those not insured by employers
  • Protect those with pre-existing conditions
  • Increase state oversight of insurance company practices
  • Reform medical liability with regard to frivolous lawsuits
  • Treat mental health care equally with physical health care
  • Modernize medical recordkeeping for faster, more accurate treatment and fewer medical errors
  • Work to eliminate Medicare fraud
  • Give Medicaid recipients more health care options
  • Prepare for emergencies by developing and stockpiling medicines and vaccines
  • Offer tuition forgiveness to health care providers who offer years of service to under-served areas of the country

Damian is a health care professional – he is a dentist in his own practice, is on the staff at Holy Redeemer and works for the county.  He has a perspective on health care that exceeds my own as he is involved in these issues on a daily basis.

I didn’t see anything in his platform that would be offensive to anyone.  I didn’t understand the outbursts of “liar” and other rude comments from the few sign holders.  (I should temper this with the observation that the majority of the attendees were polite and respectful.  They seemed to truly want to hear the opinions of the speakers and questioners – it was only  a loud few that were disruptive.)

What I did see is a great deal of passion on the part of the attendees.  People care about this topic and want to see something done.

I guess there is a sense of urgency on the part of the attendees, which is understandable.  However I do think it is reaonsable to ensure that whatever is developed makes sense and doesn’t drive the country into deeper and deeper debt that only our great-grandchildren will be able to repay.

I look forward to hearing more as the discussion continues, but hope that people will attempt to behave in a civilized manner so that everyone’s voice can be heard without anger or preconceptions based on party affiliation.

One Response to “Town Hall meeting reflections”

  1. [...] a good communicator, clear on the issues and has the most momentum of the group.  I posted in an earlier blog entry about Damian’s Health Care Town Hall in early September.  He was putting out the word [...]

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