In response to Rebecca Crandall’s recent letter regarding Rep. Patrick McHenry’s 10th Congressional District town hall meetings [“Brown Will Help Middle- and Lower-Class Families,” Aug. 22, Xpress]: I agree with her assessment — the Buncombe County venues are usually scheduled at inconvenient times for those who work (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and in limited spaces. I went to his Shelby town hall meeting at the historic Don Gibson Theatre. Compare this to the Riceville fire station for his recent August meeting in Buncombe. Nobody had to wait outside at the Shelby venue.
On a positive note: Rep. McHenry allows constituents to ask their own questions, in stark contrast to Rep. Mark Meadows (District 11), where all questions are screened by his staff as a way to control the process. I find this violates the “spirit” of a town hall, which allows for the “voice” of the people, as in We the People.
My comments for Rep. McHenry addressed the current health care crisis in the U.S. He proposes that recent legislation in the House to modernize and improve access to health savings accounts will reduce the costs of health care but fails to explain these accounts are short-term, to be renewed annually; may not cover pre-existing conditions or the cost of drugs. Nor does it save us from the “hell” of choosing the best “deal” from the maze of constantly changing health insurance plans. Health savings accounts will not fix our broken health care system or slow the rising costs of health care. In 2017, Americans spent $3.5 trillion on health care. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care costs will rise 5.5 percent annually through 2026.
Americans are tired of paying too much for health care. We are fed up with politicians pursuing partial and incremental solutions, such as health savings accounts. For many of us, it looks like health insurers, drug manufacturers and highly paid lobbyists corrupt our democracy. I could go on: how the U.S. spends over twice as much per capita on health care as any other developed country; that 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical expenses, etc.
There is only one way forward: Medicare for All. For the first time a majority of Americans now support an Expanded Medicare for All, which was introduced in the House in 2016 (HR 676) and now has 123 co-sponsors. David Wilson Brown, the Democratic challenger to McHenry, supports this legislation. I hope this will be part of any public debate between the candidates and before early voting starts on Oct. 17.
Lastly, for anybody interested in health care for all, there will be a screening of “FIX IT: Healthcare at the Tipping Point,” on Sept. 11 at Habitat Tavern & Commons [174 Broadway] in Asheville at 7 p.m. This will be followed by a discussion, led by local physician members of the national organization, Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org).
— Roger Turner