It was civil and substantive, not like those WWF-style shoutfests that have passed for health care town hall meetings this summer.
For two hours, scores of substantive questions were e-mailed and called in to our WTLC-AM1310 “Afternoons with Amos” health care town hall.
The questions that Congressman Andre Carson and other guests received concerned not political talking points, but real world worries and fears about how health care reform would work.
Would the homeless be covered? How would the plan handle those believing in religious faith healing? What was the “public option” really? How would the plan be paid for?
Carson was blunt saying he’d read the proposed legislation and that he was solidly for a public option.
The local TV stations and the Indianapolis Star covered Carson’s appearance, but ducked out and didn’t hear a top Obama Administration official weigh in.
Local media didn’t believe it was important for their viewers and readers to know what Dr. Christina Romer, the University of California/Berkley economist, who chairs the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, told our town hall and community.
I began asking Dr. Romer about the concern of a listener who determines pre-existing conditions for an insurance company. She worried if she’d lose her job with health care reform.
“If we have health care reform,” said Dr. Romer, “there will be a lot more Americans getting health insurance. So insurance companies will need to be handling those. They won’t be limiting people’s pre-existing conditions; they won’t be dropping people because they are sick. They’ll be lots of claims to deal with,” Romer reassured. “So I think (your caller) will be just fine.”
Romer broke it down, “Health care costs in this country have been rising. More rapidly than wages, more rapidly than prices, more rapidly than GDP. One of crucial reasons for doing health care reform is to put in place changes to help slow the growth of costs. Then you won’t see insurance companies jacking up their rates.”
Romer explained why a public option.
“The President has talked about the importance of a public plan to make sure there’s more competition. And that’s a way to contain costs.”
Romer says that another way for savings is cutting health care waste. She says some 30 percent are unnecessary or duplicative medical tests and procedures.
The president’s top economic advisor explained how Black-owned businesses would be helped.
“We’re going to set up an insurance exchange where they can go to buy coverage (for their employees) at a lower cost. We will provide a tax credit to make it easier for them to afford coverage for their workers.”
“The more we can make sure that everybody has choice (of insurance providers and options) we think that will make Americans a lot happier,” Romer added.
Given last week’s column, I asked Romer if the president would consider an Oval Office address on health care.
“The president feels so passionately about this issue,” Romer explained. “He has made it the topic of his radio address (and) given some really important speeches. But maybe he needs to do some more. It’s such an important issue. And there’s so much misinformation out there and he is by far our best teacher and explainer. So I’m sure he’ll be out there a lot.”
President Obama should send out more of his top officials like Dr. Christina Romer to explain the plan to our community. And he should definitely give that Oval Office speech to the nation.
What I’m Hearing
in the Streets
Faith and a passion to serve others drove Senator Edward M. “Teddy” Kennedy to a life servicing the ideas and ideals of civil, equal and human rights and justice.
One of his brothers was a war hero, another a distinguished political and moral leader, the third a president. Their lives were productive, yet shortened.
Ted Kennedy’s life was long and productive, creating laws that influence us in countless ways everyday. The list alone would fill this weekly space.
Ted Kennedy made many mistakes, but rehabilitated himself to become a benefit to his family and nation.
In many Black households there used to be portraits of President John F. Kennedy and/or Sen. Robert Kennedy, next to those of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Now, next to our portraits of President Barack Obama there should be portraits of Sen. Ted Kennedy. What he did for our people and nation far eclipses his brothers and approaches Dr. King’s significance and the significance of our president.
Teddy Kennedy was an honorary lion of our African-American community.
May he rest in peace.
Ted Kennedy was also fiercely partisan. So, in that spirit let me address last week’s insulting remarks from Marion County Republican Party Chair Tom John.
After former Deputy Mayor Melina Kennedy’s entry as a possible 2011 mayoral candidate, John issued a vile swipe against her and other potential Democratic mayoral candidates.
John told the Indianapolis Star, “It’s just like a bunch of clowns getting out of a clown car at the circus. It’s just kind of a joke right now.”
Let’s look at John’s party’s record of governing Indianapolis.
His party is overseeing a massive rollback in racial and gender diversity in Indianapolis government. There’s no Blacks or women major UniGov department heads for the first time.
John’s Republicans have embarked on a policy that’s reducing the percentage and actual numbers of African-American police and fire personnel and commanders.
Republicans have decimated Parks Department funding, eliminated any Blacks in senior management positions, fired key Black personnel and are threatening to fire union workers, many of whom are Black. All while many park facilities are left to deteriorate.
The City-County Council majority’s spending $600,000 in an illegal scheme to redistrict using outdated Census data.
John’s party demands critical agencies like the Prosecutor’s, Public Defender and Probation Offices cut their budgets while shoving money to the CIB for dubious bailouts.
His party refuses to adequately fund sheriff deputy pensions.
Indianapolis is becoming a city with no vision or leadership under John’s party’s watch. That’s the joke and the tragedy. Not which Democrats enter the race!
See ‘ya next week!
Amos Brown’s opinions are not necessarily those of the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. You can contact him at (317) 221-0915.