Fielding health care reform questions from Lawrence business leaders and elected officials Tuesday, Rep. Dennis Moore indicated he would settle for a public health insurance option.
Although the six-term Lenexa Democrat also referred to the public option as “not his first choice” but likely the one most members of Congress will look to as part of a major health care overhaul.
“I think there has to be some competition with some of the private insurance industry organizations, and (a public option) is not my first choice,” said Moore, whose district includes eastern Lawrence. “I’d rather have private. I think we’ve got to have some competition, too.”
Moore spoke to 150 people at Maceli’s as part of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 National Congressional Series. A majority of the written questions addressed the issues surrounding health care reform.
Moore said it was too early to see what plans can pass both the House and Senate, but he said controlling health costs and the federal deficit should be the major aim for reform.
As for ways to raise revenue to pay for it, Moore said a tax on soda probably wouldn’t raise that much money.
When one person from the crowd asked if he supported a a surtax on couples that earn more than $350,000, Moore said he preferred not to raise taxes during a recession but wanted to leave all options on the table.
“That’s not my first choice by any means, but we need to see what the final product is, what it’s going to provide for in terms of health care reform for our country and what it’s going to cost,” he said.
Inside, the crowd was friendly and respectful. Outside, eight protesters stood with signs.
Moore said two weeks ago that he would not appear at town hall-style meetings after his office received two threats. During the current recess, some angry crowds have greeted some members of Congress.
A spokeswoman said the group outside Maceli’s represented the Kansas 9-12 Project and the November Patriots.
“I’d really like to go to a town hall meeting, but he isn’t having one,” said Sharon Evans, of Roeland Park.
Evans said she was worried Congress would enact a public option as part of the health care overhaul because it could drive private insurance companies out of business and lead to just a government-run option.
Moore said he was confident he gained enough feedback during the recess on the issue by taking calls and meetings with smaller groups.
“I think we can have our honest differences. I don’t expect people to agree with me all the time, but we should at least be civil and respectful in our differences,” he said.