Newburyport Daily News: 300-Plus Pack Town Hall Meeting on Health Care

February 6th, 2017

GLOUCESTER — More than 300 people crammed into the Rose Baker Senior Center on Saturday for a question-and-answer session with Congressman Seth Moulton regarding the Affordable Care Act.

Moulton was greeted with a standing ovation by those who squeezed in; some who didn’t make it inside said they were going home to watch via live stream. The congressman began the meeting by discussing how Republicans continue to move to repeal the ACA without a replacement. “The reality is, they have no plan,” Moulton said of the Republicans.

According to Moulton, if Republicans go forward and repeal Obamacare without a replacement health care system in place, costs will go up and 32 million people will not have insurance. “What do you think those 32 million people are going to do?” Molten asked. A crowd member shouted, “They will die!”

Some of them, Moulton agreed, will die. “Many of them will show up at emergency rooms to get the most expensive health care, not just in America, but in the world,” he said. He admitted the ACA isn’t perfect, and said he wanted to hear from the audience what does and does not work about it. “Everybody sitting here today will see their health care prices go up and will see the national deficit go up if we just repeal it and don’t replace it.”

Constituents from all over Massachusetts, including Billerica, North Andover, Andover, Salem, Ipswich, Beverly, Rockport, Manchester and Gloucester, lined the room waiting for their turn with the microphone that was passed around to ask questions. Moulton wanted to keep the meeting focused on is the ACA, however some other issues such as the Muslim ban, transgender rights, the Russian involvement with the election, medical marijuana and the National Security Council also arose.

A Gloucester woman who identified herself as Rosemary spoke about her family’s personal experience with health care. “I just wanted to thank everybody in this room for helping my daughter,” she said. Her husband teaches at the Waring School in Beverly and she is a stay-at-home mother, and they depend on the ACA for health insurance. A few weeks ago her 5-year-old daughter, Iona, spent the night in three emergency rooms, starting in Gloucester, moving to Beverly, until finally she was rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital for a life-threatening condition.

“Several X-rays later, an ultrasound and 11 bags a fluids, we found that she didn’t have the first life-threatening condition but that she was at risk for shock, and without the Affordable Care Act, she wouldn’t have made it,” Rosemary said, breaking into tears. She was met with loud applause.

Moulton replied that there are a lot of compelling statistics and numbers. “We talk about coverage rates, insurance premiums and deficits but at the end of the day this is people’s lives, lives like the life of your daughter,” Moulton said.

Moulton also cleared up a common misconception about the health insurance congressmen receive. “Believe it or not, contrary to public opinion, Congress is subject to the Affordable Care Act,” Moulton said. Moulton, a former Marine who served in Iraq, said he gets his health insurance from the Veterans Administration.

The question, “How do people take action on issues such as the ACA and the Muslim ban?” was raised and met with loud applause. Moulton stated that the Trump administration is not interested in compromise. “They’re not interested in facts, they’re not interested in debate, they’re interested in partisan ideology,” Moulton said. President Donald Trump looks at his popularity ratings, according to Moulton. “It matters to him, if you go out and protest.”

A more quiet solution, he said, is talking to Republican friends. Some people like what Trump is doing in the White House, and Moulton suggested taking those people out for a cup of coffee and explaining to them why Trump’s actions put Americans at risk. “Try to understand their point of view and try to explain to them that we may come from different backgrounds, we may be in different parties, we may have some different political beliefs, but what Trump is doing is dangerous for the country,” Moulton said.

He spoke about the concern many people in the room had of Trump’s access to nuclear weapons. “There’s a careful balance that I think we have to strike as a country over the next four years in preventing Trump from doing anything dangerous, literally, to our existence, but also making sure that Trump becomes an aberration. That Trump is looked at as an unfortunate footnote in American history.”

Article online here.

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