Fort Dodge residents fearful that a health care reform effort will put Uncle Sam in charge of their visits to the doctor found out Monday that U.S. Rep. Tom Latham shares their concern.
During an hour-long town hall meeting, many in the crowd of some 170 people in Friendship Haven's Celebration Center took the microphone to denounce what they see as an attempt by the government to intrude in their lives.
Latham, R-Ames, said he would rather see the Congress pass tax credits which would help more people buy insurance.
Ina Breeden, of Gowrie, left, offers her thoughts on health care reform and other national issues during a town hall meeting Monday afternoon held by U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R- Ames, right.
He added that the ''looming disaster'' facing the country concerns the Social Security system, which he said will begin paying out more money than it takes in starting in 2012. Attacking that problem, he said, ought to be the top priority.
''We've got to decide as a country what our priorities are,'' Latham said.
The congressman raised the possibility of a health care reform stalemate in Congress. He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has vowed that no health care bill will pass in her chamber without a public coverage option. But in the Senate, he said, there apparently aren't enough votes to pass a public option. Latham didn't speculate on how such a stalemate might be resolved.
Latham began his visit to Fort Dodge earlier Monday afternoon with a visit to the Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corp. plant at 3591 Maple Drive. There, he witnessed the highly automated process of turning aluminum and steel into cans and can lids. Silgan's products hold pet food, Campbell's soup and hundreds of other canned goods that line supermarket shelves.
''This is a plant that most people wouldn't believe is in this area,'' plant manager Bruce Whittier told Latham.
The congressman began his town hall meeting by saying that he hoped to do more listening than talking. Before it was over, he heard plenty of comments.
Ina Breeden, of Gowrie, gave a short speech in which she lashed out against health care reform, same sex marriage and President Barack Obama.
''This health care plan is to control you,'' she told the audience. ''Obama is not looking out for you.''
Janet Clark, of Fort Dodge, offered one of the few pleas for health care reform that includes a public option. She cited the example of an acquaintance stricken with brain cancer whose family has nowhere to turn for health insurance.
''I really want health care with a public option,'' she said.
Latham predicted that 114 million people who now have private health insurance would be pushed into a public program if one is created. Businesses, he said, would cancel their health insurance plans if a public program existed.
A board appointed by the president would determine what a public option insurance program would cover, according to Latham.
Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org