Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health care debate comes home : Capps and Gallegly plan to hear from constituents during summer recess


July 30, 2009 7:17 AM

As health care climbs the ladder of urgency on a national level, congressional representatives will seek to connect with the matter on a ground level during the upcoming monthlong summer district work period, tentatively set to begin on Monday.

According to Emily Kryder, a spokeswoman for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, the congresswoman plans to perform outreach by "harkening back to her experience as a nurse."

"She does plan on talking to constituents," said Ms. Kryder. "She plans on visiting more clinics, talking to more folks."

Ms. Kryder said the congresswoman talks to constituents about health care constantly, "whether she's in the grocery store, doing something with her granddaughter. . ."

She added that Rep. Capps sees health care as a "broken system."

"It's hurting families and businesses," she said. "A lot of people have friends or family members that struggle to get affordable health care."

Tom Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Rep. Elton Gallegly, said the Thousand Oaks Republican also intends to keep health care in mind over the break.

"He does have a meeting set up with health care providers next week," said Mr. Pfeiffer, "but you won't find him on a soapbox; he's not a soapbox person. He talks to constituents all the time."

Opponents to changes in the health care system that have come out of Washington cite a variety of fears, including that the public will have to go into a government program; that insurance companies would not be able to compete with government-run insurance; long waits and increased bureaucracy to get the care they want; and that the U.S. would be left with a single-payer system, like in England or Canada.

Santa Barbara resident Elizabeth Tudor told the News-Press some sort of overhaul of the system is needed.

"Do I like my current EPO (exclusive provider organization)? Yes, but in a few months I won't be able to afford it," she said.

Ms. Tudor said the perpetually rising cost of health care is unacceptable.

"Everyone deserves to have health care," she said.

Paul Mannion, another Santa Barbara resident, said the system needs to be improved.

"When my wife was pregnant, I was unable to get insurance," said the 34-year-old, "because by law, they have to insure the baby, too."

Mr. Mannion expressed concern that insurance companies have misplaced priorities.

"It's too much about money for them," he said, "and not about helping people out."

Jerry Jackman agrees that something needs to be improved within the health care system, but he disagrees with Ms. Tudor's assertion that everyone deserves coverage.

"There could be better coverage and better care," he said, "but I doubt we can cover everybody."

Mr. Jackman, 65, said that he is on Medicare and that although not everybody can be covered, "something needs to happen."

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