Health care overhaul is at the forefront of American media coverage, bombarding political junkies and average Joes alike with news and analysis of the proposals. People on both sides of the debate are presenting strong opinions on the issue, most recently in the famed town hall meetings.
The city of Abilene is no exception. Many in the community attended a town hall meeting Aug. 2 conducted by Congressman Randy Neugebauer at McMurry University. During the meeting, Neugebauer gave a brief synopsis of the health care plan and where he stood on the issue.
“It is turning health care over to the federal government, and I’m just not for government-run health care,” Neugebauer said.
After detailing his opposition to the current health care bill, the congressman opened the floor for questions. One man in attendance asked the senator if he thought it acceptable that this area claims one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation.
“I think in this debate, what we realize is there are a lot of people with statistics out there,” Neugebauer said. “When we look at uninsured people in Texas, there are a lot of undocumented individuals.”
Some in attendance expected a more vigorous debate. One woman, in particular, said she viewed it as a “kind of subdued pep rally.”
A representative from the Dian Graves Owen Foundation in Abilene was most concerned about the local impact of the bill.
“We are the largest area in Texas without a tax-supported hospital,” she said. “If the bill passes and they, in fact, reduce Medicare reimbursements and Medicaid reimbursements, it’s going to be a tremendous loss for Hendrick Medical Center.”
The overall tone of the meeting was not the extremism seen on TV, although some did express discontent. In general, the attitude was one of agreement. When the meeting was over, people left smiling and shaking hands.