Fifth District Congressman John Spratt held a telephone town hall meeting with residents of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence and Marlboro counties Tuesday night.
The topic was health care reform. The Senate is debating a bill this week. The House passed a bill previously. The measure will end up in a conference committee where differences will be worked out.
One caller said he felt that the Senate version of health care reform had been watered down so much that it would end up not being worth anything. Spratt said the situation is better than that. “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed spent about ten days getting it revamped, and he worked not only on the quality of the package, but he made sure that his troops were ready behind him.”
Spratt says he doesn’t expect the Senate bill to be killed outright, but just watered down even more. “It’s not a bad bill, but some things need to be changed,” he said. “If it is killed over time, there will be several attempts to resuscitate it.”
The House bill has a public option. Spratt expects the Senate version to end up with one.
Spratt says he will work toward an even better plan, so that when the House and Senate hammer out their differences, the proposal will be better than ever. He talked about the affect that the House version, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, would have on his district.
“It will improve employer based coverage for 412,000 residents,” said Spratt. “It will provide credits to help 195,000 households with coverage, those who need help with premiums. It will improve Medicare coverage for 119,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole for 8,700 seniors. It will also allow more than 13,000 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage. It will provide coverage for 82,000 uninsured residents. And it will protect up to 700 families from bankruptcy.”