Congressman Hears West Texans' Concerns on Health Care Reform

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It's a topic growing in controversy everyday across the U.S. The healthcare reform debate hit the Tall City on Monday. Congressman Mike Conaway spent the afternoon at Midland Memorial Hospital explaining his stance on Obama's healthcare plan and listening and answering questions from West Texans.

It was standing room only.

"We've got a bunch of folks who have patiently waited for an hour to be able to come in and have a conversation with me about their concerns," Conaway said.

Congressman Conaway hosted a town hall meeting in Midland - just one of many across the nation. So many people came out, they even held two meetings just to make sure everyone had a chance to speak their minds.

"There are places where people need help and that needs to be addressed, but this bill in Congress now is not going to do it," Kay Eskew, who attended the meeting, said.

But not everyone thinks the proposed legislation is a bad idea and several in Monday's meeting voiced their concerns.

"I don't think that government is going to do a worse job than the insurance companies do," One concerned attendee said. "Now let me finish because we have a very different point of view, you're afraid the government is going to say that I have to die, well I could die now because I can't afford to pay for healthcare."

And for Conaway and most of the attenders it all comes down to the bottom line.

"No one argues that we don't need some reform, that we can't afford the system and struggles with how we pay for it," Conaway said. "The delivery side is really good, but how we pay for it and the bill that's currently out there does not properly address that."

NewsWest 9 spoke with a business owner who says healthcare is something he handles every day.

"We spend probably $10,000 a month on healthcare for our 25 employees," Oil Business Owner, Don Shackleford, said. "We try to put it out there as catastrophic and not only for them but for the company, to keep it going because these are valuable people to us that keep our company going on every day. It's important to take care of those people."

The healthcare debate wasn't just for older adults - several local high school and college students prioritized the town hall meeting.

"According to the government, I can't make decisions for myself," Midland College Student, Alan Eskew, said. "What gives them the right to tell me that I can't make a decision? I'm smart enough to figure out how to do it and I don't want them or anyone else to make my decisions for me."

Conaway believes Republican leaders can put the brakes on the current reform bill when Congress goes back into session in September.

"It's something you cannot stick your head in the sand about," Connie Hargreve, who also attended the meeting, said. "You've got to get on board, you've got to get involved. If you don't get involved, you don't have any right to gripe."