The health of the nation–and how to pay for it–was a robust topic at Tom Cole’s Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday.
Congressman Cole, Republican, held the meeting in Chickasha at the Te Ata Theater at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
Cole began the meeting discussing issues in Congress, including border security, tax reform and healthcare. Cole said repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was probably one of the most visible issues currently debated.
Cole said there are aspects of the Affordable Care Act that both sides want to keep. These include protecting those with preexisting conditions, keeping children 26 and under on their parents health insurance and the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act.
Cole said Congress is looking at what other states are doing, such as Maine, where people who need more healthcare coverage are put into “high risk” pools” and lower the premiums for relatively healthy individuals.
Cole took comments from the audience for about two hours. In addition to questions about social security, climate change and Syria, most question focused on healthcare.
One audience member said the United States for-profit healthcare system was to blame for the situation the country is in. She said she is spending her retirement on health insurance. She asked why the United States did not look to the many developed countries who have universal healthcare and find a way to implement it here.
Cole said that while many other countries do have universal healthcare, it is rationed out and there can be a long wait for care. Cole said that someone can wait six months to receive treatment for cancer. This was met with murmurs of “that’s not true” from the crowd. Cole said that these countries tend not to be as innovative and the citizens often express dissatisfaction.
Another commenter said when he and his wife lived in Germany for a few years, his wife hurt her knee. The man said that within 36 hours his wife had been examined, received an MRI and had a surgery scheduled. The commenter said that the Affordable Care Act could be repaired and that their are lots of viable solutions to get the United States better healthcare. He closed by saying that until the government gets serious about healthcare, there will be no solution.
Cole reiterated that in many ways, both sides are coming to a consensus and keeping the aforementioned aspects of the Affordable Care Act. He also pointed out that Germany spends less on the military and doctors work on a different cycle. Cole added that the United States pays lower taxes than many European countries.
A woman in the audience was concerned for the future of mental healthcare. She asked Cole to help protect the Mental Health Parity Act, which made it possible for her to get the right diagnosis for her bipolar disorder as well as proper therapy and medication for her son with autism.
Cole will hold his next Town Hall Meeting in Ardmore at noon on April 18 at the Ardmore Convention Center.
Healthcare gets a checkup at Town Hall Meeting | Community