Pinellas residents worry health care reform may not happen

06/22/09 Mitch E. Perry
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A leading Senate Democrat yesterday said President Barack Obama may not have enough support in the Senate for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system.

California’s Dianne Feinstein, told CNN’s State Of the Union that there may not be the votes to pass health care reform. Indiana Republican Richard Lugar said that overhaul should be done slowly, but definitely not this year.

This past Saturday, approximately three dozen people gathered for a forum on health care reform at the Seminole Public Library in Pinellas County. Those in attendance have very serious concerns about our current health care system. But they differ on one of the main sticking points right now – whether or not to include a public option.

Last week several polls showing increasing concerns about the federal deficit – with much more support for trying to bring that down than spending what the president has said could cost more than a trillion dollars to fix health care.

Robert Glass from Seminole says that deficit fears are a real concern.

Carl Lucci from Seminole remains skeptical about the government getting involved in health care. In his opinion, private companies always do a better job than bureaucrats in providing services to the public.

The roughly three dozen people in attendance at the discussion on Saturday morning first watched a PBS Frontline Documentary that looked at five capitalist democracies around the world that deliver health care and what the U.S. could possibly learn from them.

Carl Lucci thought the film, called Sick Around the World, was biased.

A Seminole resident who just wanted to provide her first name of Jean says that she currently has Blue Cross/Blue Shield as her health care provider. She believes that dramatic reform is needed in this country, but also thinks the tide of those who prefer the status quo might be getting the upper hand right now with the debate in Washington.

Linda Gervitz from Clearwater is a clinical psychologist with a small private practice. She says she’s had to hire a part-time employee simply to deal with insurance issues. She wants to see the system reformed. However, she admits she’s not necessarily in favor of the Medicare for All philosophy embraced in HB 676, sponsored by Michigan Democrat John Conyers.

And Gervitz says that she’s concerned that, in an effort to appease all the major players in the health care equation, nothing will actually get done.

Last week Bruce Josten, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president, criticized several elements of the plans being discussed in Congress, including one calling for a mandate that employers provide health insurance for workers.

Gervitz said businesses need to be part of the solution, because their costs have gone up dramatically over the years as well.

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