Reed Again Faces Criticism On Health Care At Town Hall Meeting
BUSTI — U.S. Rep. Tom Reed came into Chautauqua County on a wave of optimism Saturday following legislation passed in the House to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
However, as was the case earlier this year, Reed was met with a wall of opposition — and at times shouts and boos — during an hour-long town hall meeting with constituents at the Busti Fire Department.
The congressman fielded several pre-written questions, most of which centered on Thursday’s passage of the American Health Care Act in the House. The bill passed by a vote of 217 to 213 and now heads to the Senate.
Reed, R-Corning, said he supported the bill, which would dismantle much of the ACA — also known as Obamacare — if it were signed into law.
“I’m very comfortable in taking a position that this is a step in the process of dealing with what’s collapsing under the Affordable Care Act,” Reed said.
The congressman noted on more than one occasion that inaccurate information has been circulating regarding the AHCA, most notable regarding health coverage for those already sick and in need of care. Reed said the bill prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to those with certain medical conditions.
“There’s a lot of misinformation about what this bill does regarding (pre-existing conditions),” he said. “As we go through this process we have got to make sure that we understand these are very sensitive issues. This is health care. It’s personal.”
Reed said he hopes the Senate takes up the AHCA soon, and acknowledged that the bill will likely be re-written by senators prior to an official vote.
“I hope the Senate gets around to taking this up sooner rather than later,” he said. “We’ve waited around on the Senate for many different issues, so hopefully this prods them to move forward.”
Comments from the congressman on health care were often cut short and drowned out by a chorus of boos. Several attendees questioned whether the health care bill would end up costing more to the sick and elderly while others heavily criticized the reduction of funding to Medicaid, a program that covers low-income citizens that was expanded in many states under Obamacare.
Many local residents brought signs to Saturday’s meeting, with one stating “Repeal and Replace Tom Reed,” while another read “Reed Took Away Pre-Existing Coverage.” Not all, however, spoke out against Reed, with one sign stating “Don’t Believe the Liberal Media.”
As was the case during Reed’s Feb. 18 town hall meeting in North Harmony, funding for Planned Parenthood was a point of contention. Reed said he has not changed his stance regarding the non-profit group that provides reproductive health care.
“When it comes to Planned Parenthood, we do not support the funding of Planned Parenthood,” he said. “What we have advocated in this bill is to take that funding and apply it to federally qualified facilities that provide women health care.”
Afterward, Reed said he will continue to hold town hall meetings in his sprawling 23rd congressional district, which includes 11 counties. He noted the meetings are a good way to interact directly with his constituents, even if some disagree with his positions.
“There was a lot of good dialogue,” he told reporters Saturday. “In my perspective, there is so much misinformation and there’s so much fear out there that if we can do a little to alleviate that than it’s well worth it in and of itself.”
In addition to meetings in Dunkirk and Busti, Reed also spoke Saturday in Hinsdale. He held four town halls in April; four in March; and four in February, including in North Harmony and Cherry Creek.