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Health reform foes dominate Kingston's Jesup meeting

POSTED: August 7, 2009 8:53 a.m.
Photo by Alena Parker/

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston makes a point during Thursday's town hall meeting.

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JESUP — “Now, you can see what the intensity level is about this… and I welcome all points of view,” U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, said before hundreds of people at Wednesday’s town hall meeting here on health care reform.
“And if you want to express anger or anything, that’s OK because this is your country and this is the First amendment in action.”
But there was not much support for health care reform proposals now making their way through Congress to balance the scales at the meeting. The major theme was to discourage the legislative push for universal health care.
The standing room only crowd welcomed Kingston with a standing ovation.
“Jack, can you please inform the members of Congress there are some of us who remember how to put tar and feathers together,” Revis Boyd of Ludowici said.
“Put it on a ballot and let us vote for it,” chimed Tom Melvin of Hinesville.
Christie Dixon of Jesup feared the bill is a done deal after hearing rumors that it was going to pass.
“It’s the people up there that’s got the votes. You tell me what we can do to stop this,” Dixon said. “I’ve read the bill, 1,000–something pages and it’s not nice.”
The health care bill was formally introduced July 13 and many in Congress are leading town hall meetings across the nation.
“If this is happening all over the country, there’s no way we’re going to put health care in the hands of the government,” Kingston said.
The Republican stayed longer than scheduled to hear comments and questions, ranging from abortion being in the bill and caps on skyrocketing costs for needed medication.
Kingston fears supporters are using the financial crisis to push the agenda, mentioning America’s $14 trillion economy.
“If you have a hole in your boat right here, you might not want to take on more cargo, which is what we would be doing,” Kingston said.
Drawing on the Cash for Clunkers program that used nearly $1 billion in the first week, Kingston thinks there needs to be better management of resources.
“If government can’t run a $1 billion program, how are they going to run a $1.2 trillion program?” he asked, drawing applause.
He said affordability and availability were the biggest concerns keeping him from supporting it.
“You got to nibble around the edges and you got to really focus on what’s wrong rather than start all over again,” Kingston said.
But he admitted the current system does need to be changed.
“No one is saying the system is perfect,” Kingston said. “We got a leaky faucet but if you got a leaky faucet you don’t need to take the whole wrecking ball to the kitchen.”
An advocate for individual choice, Kingston suggested a voucher program where people could pick an affordable policy that fits their needs.
Taking a steak and hotdog analogy, Kingston said the country is “in a system that doesn’t teach you how to comparatively shop.”
“And we need to have that mechanism in it to make it more affordable,” Kingston said. “It brings down the cost of insurance and increase the competition.”
Heide Zuckschwerdt noticed the mass of like-mindedness in the audience and wanted to know how to get other people on board.
“You talk with the same people over and over again, it’s pleasant, but you’re not moving the ball forward,” Kingston agreed, suggesting calling people in and out of state to rely their feelings to congressmen.
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