Forbes talks health care

Published 9:40 am Saturday, September 19, 2009

FRANKLIN—The national debate that has polarized Americans on both sides came to Franklin Friday afternoon when U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., spoke at a discussion on health care reform.

Forbes, who does not support sweeping health care reform proposed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, spoke to a gathering at Cypress Cove Country Club. The event was presented by Manry-Rawls Insurance and co-hosted by the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce and Cypress Cove Country Club.

“Nobody is saying that we do not want to reform health care,” he said. “We do we want to continue to make it better.”

When many congressional representatives were holding spirited town hall meetings this summer, Forbes and his staff were busy calling constituents to get their opinions on health care reform.

“We had over 320,000 contacts with individuals, the overwhelming number of those — and I’m talking 98 percent of them — were against the current health care proposal that we see coming through Congress today,” Forbes said.

Forbes said that the current health care legislation is too ambitious, and reform could be achieved piece-by-piece. He supports a refundable tax credit for American citizens who can’t afford health insurance and forbidding insurance companies from excluding people because of pre-existing conditions. He also said he supports portability of insurance policies, reforms to medical malpractice laws and increased funding for medical research.

Most of those bills would have bipartisan support, according to Forbes. He also said that Medicare will run out of money by 2017, and it doesn’t make sense to dump millions more people onto government-run health care.

“You’ve got to fix that first,” he said.

Forbes said that he is one of 17 members of Congress who voted against every bailout or stimulus bill.

“I did it because we didn’t think that they would work and they didn’t,” he said.

The health care debate, which erupted this summer, is about more than just health care, according to Forbes.

“Many people see a point where the government just seems to be taking over everything,” he said.

Paula McCarty attended the discussion and said that she was “totally impressed” with Forbes and his ideas for health care.

Bob Sager, who also attended the discussion, said that health care is a very important issue and Forbes “made some good points.”

“Definitely, the health care system needs something done,” he said.

Forbes said that the group that has been left out of the entire debate is patients. He said that lawmakers from both parties should work together to find the best possible outcome for patients.

“I think what’s important for us to do is to stop the screaming and really go to the table and say what works and what does not work,” he said. “If we make bad decisions on some of this, there is no going back.”