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McKeon slams health bill

Local congressman offers Republican alternative

Posted: November 5, 2009 9:23 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon held a media blitz on Thursday, which included two teleconferences, as part of a last-ditch effort to thwart Democrats' effort to reform health care.

"This is our best shot at stopping this bill," McKeon said during a noon teleconference held at Santa Clarita City Hall. "Everything we can do to stop this, we will do."

The Democrats announced H.R. 3962, their version of health care reform, on Monday. The majority party is giving the Republicans until Saturday to digest the 2,000-page document before the House of Representative votes on the bill. Meanwhile, McKeon held a reading of the bill at three locations in his 25th Congressional District on Wednesday, followed by two teleconferences where the congressman pled with his constituents to call their friends in other districts and urge them to tell their congressional representatives to oppose the bill.

He also took shots at the bill's supporters and the media.

Among those in McKeon's ideological line of fire was the American Association of Retired Persons, which threw in its support for the Democratic health care reform bill.

"They (AARP) are pretty much an arm of the Democratic Party," he said.

McKeon questioned how the AARP, with a membership that is exclusively over 50 years of age, could back a plan that would cut more than $500 million from Medicare spending.

AARP officials in California called McKeon's statement unfounded and characterized the organization as a non-partisan group that advocates for older Americans.

"We evaluate legislation and take positions based on our policies," said Ernie Powell, senior advocacy manager.

While the Republicans have insisted that cuts to Medicare will mean diminished services for Medicare beneficiaries, the AARP stands with the Democrats' claim that insuring more Americans through a public option will secure Medicare's long-term viability.

"There are 7 million people age 50-64, including 1 million in California, that don't have insurance," Powell said. "Those folks put a strain on Medicare when they qualify for the program because they come to the program with pre-existing health conditions that they might not have had, if they were insured."

On Thursday night, McKeon spoke to more than 11,000 of his constituents during a tele-town hall conference.

"I wish we had health care the same way we have fire services, police services or any other services," said one caller. "I wish we had services for everyone."

McKeon disagreed with the caller and stuck to a theme he often repeats.

"We don't think the government should do everything for everybody," he said.

The same caller pressed McKeon on the 200-page Republican plan that he said doesn't cover as many Americans.

"It's not apples to apples. We don't try to do everything they do," McKeon said.

While the Democratic plan covers 86 percent of the country, McKeon said he did not have hard numbers for the Republican alternative.

McKeon lobbed some accusations at the media during his Thursday blitz.

"We are dealing with a media that has basically sold out," he said.

With thousands gathering in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to rally against the public option detailed in the Democratic bill, McKeon said the media will likely underreport the number of people in attendance.

"They will probably say it was 150 people," he said.


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