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Healthy debate in Granite Bay

By: Megan Wood Press Tribune
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The Granite Bay High School gymnasium is normally packed with proud parents cheering on the Grizzlies. But on Tuesday night, thousands filled the bleachers and chairs leaving standing room only for community members to voice their opinions and participate in a heated debate about health care reform. Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, who hosted the first of four town hall meetings throughout Northern California Tuesday night, focused his comments against President Barrack Obama’s proposed universal health care plan as he told the audience of more than 2,000 residents about the need for a prepaid health care voucher to accommodate the varying health care needs of Americans. “The long lines and waiting lists are downright deadly,” McClintock said. “The health voucher will allow every family in America to choose a plan that accommodates their needs.” McClintock also expressed his desire for competition among insurance companies and the freedom for citizens to choose a health care plan and an insurance carrier across state lines. “We don’t require Californians to bank or shop in only California stores. Why should we require that they choose California plans?” McClintock asked, to which the supporters in the crowd responded with a standing ovation. As members of the community claimed the microphone to pitch their burning questions to the Congressman, emotions flared and the crowd became polarized. Christa Darlington, an Auburn resident, spoke against McClintock’s views citing that the tax credit he proposed totaled $2,000 annually when the average healthcare plan costs $1,086 per month. Darlington came to the meeting with a carpetbag containing more than 3,000 names of his constituents who were against McClintock’s plan. As Darlington made her way through the crowd, supporters of McClintock made their opinions known by way of boos and name-calling. Although McClintock and numerous community speakers asked for the meeting to run smoothly and civil, that didn’t stop several heated opponents in the audience from yelling over speakers, throwing paper and calling speakers a multitude of names from “liar” and “hateful” to “whack job.” “There’s no need for the name calling or throwing things,” McClintock said. “In this room there are a number of voracious opinions and they deserve to be heard no matter what.” Steve Merck took the floor to speak out against Obama’s plan saying the current system, although in need of reform, “should not be thrown out and replaced with a system that looks more like Communist Russia where bureaucrats tell people what they can do, have and believe.” Merck expressed concern for the healthcare debate since for his family, it is a “life and death” issue. He said his wife is currently in remission from Stage 3C ovarian cancer while his son has been diagnosed with autism. Merck said he is fearful that if he loses his healthcare, his wife may potentially lose her life and his son potentially loses the support and medications that he needs. “I pay $4,000 ayear for my prescriptions and everything else that’s what it costs in the private industry,” Merck said. “Let me tell you, I’d rather pay that than what we’re talking about, people.” Merck referred to a speech given by Obama in which he said the new healthcare program would be paid for stating it would fix waste in the current system. “Why don’t we first try to fix the problems in the current system, if there is that much waste in it,” Merck said. “That could be enough to bring the costs down to a reasonable level for all of us.” One opinion that received a standing ovation of approval from the crowd was that of Ab Baughman, a Rocklin resident who immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia in 1977. “I came to this country for freedom. This is such a good country, you don’t know how good you have it,” Baughman said. “This healthcare reform sounds like socialism, that’s not the country I came to live in or want to live in.” know and go Tom McCLintock hosts final town hall meeting in Northern California When: Saturday, Sept. 5 4:30 pm Where: Ponderosa High School, 3661 Ponderosa Road, Shingle Springs