Jenkins attempted to hold another town hall only this time she spoke about anything and everything minus Health Care Reform or the public option, that is until her constituents reminded her they came to talk about Health Care.
Jenkins answered questions from about 15 people during a scheduled hourlong town hall meeting in Lawrence. She arrived at 4:10 p.m., about 10 minutes late, and told the crowd of about 250 that the session would end at 5 p.m.
Jenkins spoke about her opposition to relocating Guantanamo Bay detainees to Kansas, the reasons she didn’t support the stimulus package and how she opposed the appropriations bill because of earmarks. After 15 minutes, some audience members grew restless and spoke over Jenkins, telling her they wanted to talk about health care.
“We will get there,” Jenkins said, and then added that she had done 26 town hall meetings so far and had never had a group treat her with such disrespect.
“You need to be respectful to us,” an audience member countered.
Jenkins continued, talking about how cap-and-trade legisation was “dead on arrival” in the Senate, as well as other energy issues.
“C’mon,” someone in the crowd said.
Jenkins then turned to the health care reform bill, H.R. 3200, which she said she doesn’t support in its current form but “doing nothing is no longer an option.”
She said nothing should come between the patient-doctor relationship, particularly the government, and health care should be affordable and accessible to all Americans regardless of pre-existing health conditions.
She said she supports advanceable tax credits to low- and modest-income Americans to help pay for health insurance, small businesses banding together to offer health insurance at lower costs, tort reform and improving health savings accounts for long-term and future health care needs.
“The options are not 3200 and nothing,” she said.
Audience members voiced their concerns on a variety of topics, including how government employees should have the same health care plan as nongovernment employees; the accessibility of affordable health insurance for young adults; and the low infant mortality rate and other criteria that reflects the lack of accessibility and poor quality of health care in the United States.
Other audience members countered that the nation’s health care system is better than those found in Canada, Great Britain and France.
David Goering, a Lawrence physician, asked Jenkins about her stance on end-of-life care and the “death panels” some health care reform opponents say it will create.
“I don’t think there’s any truth to the death panels,” she said, but added that to an 80-year-old grandmother who is afraid she won’t be able to get a pacemaker it “may feel like a death panel.”
Responding to a University of Kansas student who said Republicans continually ask Democrats to compromise on health care reform but then don’t hold up their end of the deal, Jenkins said: “The Democrats have unfettered power in Washington. My opinion is not needed.”
She said that if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants something, she gets it.
A woman in the audience spoke up, telling Jenkins she has a role in the House.
“You’re our representative,” she said.
Kent Henson, a graduate student in social work at KU, said he was satisfied that he was able to express his point of view during the town hall meeting. He supports a public option because it will allow Americans access to a large risk pool and help control administrative expenses.
“I believe we need public support when free market principles fail to provide shared prosperity,” Henson said.
People started showing up for the town hall meeting at 1 p.m. Members of Kansas Health Care for All handed out brochures and bumper stickers, while Lawrence Move On Council set up a table near the parking lot.
Supports of a single-payer plan and other health care reform initiatives lined up outside of the Dole Institute holding signs that said: “Single payer,” “Make For-Profit Health Insurance Illegal,” “God’s Love is Stronger Than Our Fears,” “Medicare for All,” “Why Not Health Care for All,” “Your doctor should think about what is best for you – not for your insurance company.”
“For me, this is not a political issue,” Carol Greib, of Lawrence, said. “It’s a human life issue. It’s an economic issue.”
Dennis Alford, a KU student majoring in social work, came early to be sure to get a seat at the forum.
“From a social work standpoint, this is the biggest social justice issue (in our time),” he said. “It’s also political, moral, economic and religious, so I can see why people want to have their say.”
Martin Goodwin, of Lawrence, who came with a sign that said “No Bama Care,” said it was his first time to attend a town hall meeting.
So, Ms. Jenkins has no say, can’t do anything to help her constituents because she isn’t Nancy Pelosi? Come on Ms. Jenkins, why’d you want the job?
Why is it that these so called Representatives and members of Congress think it’s perfectly acceptable that hard working Americans, many who are just getting by should pay for health coverage for Ms. Jenkins and her colleagues, yet those very same Americans aren’t deserving of the same coverage?
Maybe it’s time to remind your representative or senator that they may lose that coverage come election time when they are voted out off office.