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San Diegans Attend a Hot Health Care Forum


The last and the biggest health care town hall meeting in San Diego County took place in this past weekend. It was in a gym, next to the Spring Valley Library.

— The last and the biggest health care town hall meeting in San Diego County took place in this past weekend. It was in a gym, next to the Spring Valley Library.

"One thing we know, this is the only event of its kind in San Diego county," said Democratic representative Susan Davis.

Davis made opening remarks in the biggest health care forum San Diego has seen. More than 1,000 voters filled a Spring Valley gym on a very hot day that brought plenty of heated comments. There was a lot of political theater. Signs, held aloft said "Keep USA free. No socialism." Another said "I'll keep my health care. You keep the change." One group of people dressed up like rich folks in tiaras, top hats and yachting jackets. They held sarcastic signs that said things like "Don't tax my face lift." After the crowd started chanting "health care for all" they began chanting "wealth care for us."

Once the floor was open for comments from the audience, the political divide among people became clear. One woman, named Dixie, said she didn't like communism. She said her Canadian in-laws told her government-financed health care was not a good idea.

"You're fine with health care until you get sick and old and you're expendable at that point!" said Dixie.

Bob Barrett of Rancho San Diego said health care legislation, being discussed in Washington, is unaffordable.

"We are owing $11.7 trillion for our national debt. Everybody in here and in America throughout is owed $38,000 a piece, whether you know it or not. We can't afford any more bills," he said.

On the other side of the debate, Patricia Law, of South Park, said government funded health care would be the best choice.

"I am for single payer health insurance and I think it would be the most cost-effective way for us to get insurance for everybody," said Law. "Every other industrialized county on the planet has health insurance and it's time we kept up with them."

Another supporter of government health care was Marty Kroopkin.

"We don't need a parasitic, vulture private health care insurance industry. Abolish that. It's a waste of money and it's criminal," says Kroopkin. "And I have something to say to those people who say that everything socialized is bad. Here's what I have to say to you. If you drove your car here on a public road, walk home!" he said.

The sheriff's department staffed the event with 40 deputies. But for all its heat, the meeting ended in a civil manner. People on both sides applauded Susan Davis and her staff for hosting the meeting. Comments like that of Michael Reen, of Pacific Beach, were typical.

"This is the beauty of Democracy that everyone can come out and yell and give direct input to their elected leaders. This is how things are supposed to run," said Reen.

Congress reconvenes in a week, and health care reform still poses many unanswered questions. Representative Susan Davis says the end result needs to be right for this country.

"I believe we are trying to create a uniquely American system here," said Davis. "To have people who have private insurance keep it, still having all of those choices. But we know if we're ever going to address even the deficit in this country, we have to begin to bring health care costs down. We are at the beginning of this process, and we have, really, a long way to go."

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