Topeka — More than 200 people on Wednesday packed into a town hall meeting on health care, with most of them having none of Democratic congressional plans aimed at expanding coverage and reducing costs.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, conducted the forum at the Holiday Day Inn Holidome, saying Democratic proposals would destroy the best health care system in the world.
“The bottom line is simple: A plan that drastically expands government will even further bankrupt our country and saddle our kids and grandkids with more and more debt,” she said.
She said the proposal would result in 114 million Americans losing the insurance they currently receive through their employers. President Barack Obama has denied this allegation and said he wants a plan to extend coverage to 47 million Americans who have no insurance and reins in the skyrocketing cost of health care.
Jenkins also said she was concerned that Democratic proposals would reduce care to the elderly and provide federal funding of abortions — allegations that supporters of various plans in Congress say are falsehoods.
Jenkins invited to speak representatives of doctors and hospitals, who criticized Obama’s initiatives, and said health care reform should include provisions to make it tougher for patients to sue doctors and hospitals.
Only Dennis George, chief executive officer of Coffey County Hospital, urged cooperation.
He said that when Jenkins returns to Washington, D.C., she should try to reach out to a Democrat and try to forge a compromise.
But many of the people asking questions were vehemently opposed to the Democratic Party and the health care initiatives, saying they amounted to a government intrusion into their private lives.
Jerry Aller of Hiawatha said Obama’s proposal to have a government public option insurance plan to compete with private insurance was like “the umpire being the pitcher.”
Paul Degener of Topeka waved a booklet copy of the U.S. Constitution and said the Constitution said nothing about guaranteeing health care.
But Richard Mason of Topeka, who identified himself as a Democrat, said government is needed to build roads and schools and defend the nation.
“There are times when we do need the government in our lives,” Mason said. He said people feel “pretty small” when insurance companies refuse to pay for care and force people into bankruptcy.
There were no shout downs as has occurred in other town hall meetings across the nation.
Jenkins said Kansans are more respectful.
“Some folks have just let their passion boil over on occasion, but I understand that this is an emotional issue,” she said.
When asked if so-called “death panels” were in the bill before the House, she said, “Not that I’m aware of but I’ve not been invited to the speaker’s office yet to talk about the bill.”
Some Republicans, most notably ex-Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, have claimed the bill will set up panels that will decide whether the elderly should receive care. Democrats deny this allegation and say the bill includes an option that will pay for people to plan end-of-life matters.
Jenkins also said she hasn’t read the entire bill -- H.R. 3200 -- but that her staff has.