Public comes out for Conrad's listening sessionMOTT — The hot-button issue of health care reform was the topic of discussion during a stop by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Wednesday at the Good Samaritan Society center.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
MOTT — The hot-button issue of health care reform was the topic of discussion during a stop by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Wednesday at the Good Samaritan Society center.
Conrad, who has been making stops throughout the state hosting “listening sessions” about health care reform, drew a crowd of about 50, comprised of residents of the area and the Good Samaritan Society center.
Other town hall-style meetings held around the United States to discuss health care have sparked some disruptions, leading Hettinger County law enforcement to be present at the meeting.
While no major outbursts or violence occurred during the meeting, participants had a lot to say and Conrad said he’s listening.
“One thing we know is that we have an excellent health care system, but we also know we have by far the most expensive system in the world,” Conrad said. “We’re headed for a circumstance where in the future, one in every three dollars in this economy will go to health care. This is not a situation where we can keep going with the status quo.”
Conrad said there is no alternative but to change the system.
“There is no way we can afford to stay on the current course, that’s the reality,” Conrad said. “If we’re going to be honest in facing up to our challenges, we have to realize that we’re on a course that’s not stable.”
Wasteful spending, health care coverage of abortions and allowing illegal aliens to receive health care were just a few of the topics discussed Wednesday.
Jeannette Sullivan, an attendant of the discussion, who farms with her husband near Mott, said the couple has always paid for health insurance out of pocket, saying it’s something she and her husband have always felt necessary.
“We’re self-employed and we have paid our own health insurance for 40 years. It’s a decision we made when we were married that we’d always carry health insurance,” Sullivan said. “We have scrimped and saved and used our farm loans to pay our health insurance, but we always pay our health insurance.”
Sullivan believes the elderly have earned the right to have Medicare and not to have funds taken out of it.
“We’d like to keep the insurance that we have, we want the right to keep our own doctors, our own specialist, we want to choose what procedures we have with reason and the meds that we take we would like to have the best,” Sullivan said. “We have the best health care system in the world, why would we want to mess that up? We don’t want to be dominated and controlled by the government. The government should not be in our private health care system at all.”
Sullivan said she is concerned over rumors that abortions would be covered in the reformed health care system.
“We heard abortions will also be included in the new national health care plan,” Sullivan said. “We don’t want to pay for that either. First of all, we do not believe in abortions, I don’t think the government should have their fingers in our lives from the time we’re conceived until the time we die. We should be able to make our own choices.”
Conrad cleared up some concerns by stating abortions will not be a part of the health care plan coverage, veteran’s benefits will stay the same and illegal aliens will not receive health care benefits.
“This is not going to be a government-run health system,” Conrad said. “All of the options that we’re going to discuss are your choice. These aren’t going to be requirements, they’ll be options. People are going to have a chance to choose what they prefer.”
Dave Crane, a Mott resident, said he has concerns about the democratic proposal for health care, citing the party’s proposal makes the health care system more complicated.
“We need a health care simplification act of 2009. I see none of the democratic proposals addressing medical malpractice. We would like you to go back to congress and express our deepest outrage to your congressional colleagues including that pathetic Nancy Pelosi,” Crane said. “I’m glad you’re not jumping on the Obama-care bandwagon, but I do hold you responsible if any part of his ill-conceived program gets passed.”
Conrad took questions from about six attendees before leaving to speak in Amidon.
Chris Gaddie, a spokesperson for Conrad, said near 50 people turned out for the event in Amidon and no disruptions were noted.
“We haven’t seen anything like some of the other folks have seen, at least with Senator Conrad,” Gaddie said. “Some people asked some tough questions, but by in large everyone was really respectful and some good information has been shared at these meetings.”
Locally, Conrad will be making a stop in Killdeer at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Hill Top Home Of Comfort and in Hettinger, Bowman and Dickinson next week.