BLOG: Health-care town hall meeting

Four questions from the Tweet Town Hall

Health care questions answered by panel

Should Congress pass a major health care bill?

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Should the government require everyone to have health insurance?

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Should the government guarantee health-care for those you can't afford it?

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Should the government offer a health care plan to compete against private insurers?

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Would you be willing to pay $500 in taxes so everyone has health insurance?

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Should employers be required to pay a fee if they don't provide health care insurance

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Click here for live streaming video of tonight's health care town hall meeting

Live updates and streaming video from tonight's Tweet Town Hall on health care. The meeting started at 6 p.m.

Updated: 7:39 p.m.

Closing statements

Hemping - those on Twitter, we appreciate your participation. We will find an American solution.

When the bill is passed, we need to get behind it and make it happen.

Joe Gauta - I want to thank all of you, what every proud American should be doing. Open your eyes, open your mouths. Other Americans owe you some applause. We touched upon some fantastic issues tonight. I do think it must be an American solution, and it will be an American solution.

Weiss: I echo my colleagues' thanks. Having a participatory government makes all the difference in the world. Think about value in health care, we need to increase the value for a multitude of reasons. Use our limited resources wisely. Continue to lead the world.

Hudson: This has been a pretty special evening. Engaged people in a way we couldn't have imagined five years ago. Reached a level where we can engage people that crossed every demographic sector. Hope you would go back and look at actual legislation being proposed. Take into account what you've learned here this evening. And engage your federal partners. Our system works when you realize you are the government.

Updated: 7:31 p.m.

Who has access to health care under HR 3200?

Hemping: Anyone who is here legally, or has right to be here, would get health care under this bill. (Lots of boos and groans).

Updated: 7:29 p.m.

Question from audience - Is health care considered a right? Do you have a right to supportive services?

Gauta: There are rules on federal level and state level - that health care is a right in following terms. In certain circumstances. On the other hand, there is a right of the people involved in a person's care. You may get treatment in critical circumstances, but the whole idea of health care being a right is very contentious.

Updated: 7:26 p.m.

Why does language in health care bill require disclosure of private information?

Hemping: It does not. That's a falsehood. There is nothing in bill that requires disclosure of your health or banking information. We will get an American solution to this problem. But what we have right now does not work.

Updated: 7:22 p.m.

How do we change legislation currently under consideration in House (HR3200)?

Weiss - it already has about 200 pending amendments attached to it right now. We have to get to our congressmen and senators, and voice our concerns.

Updated: 7:20 p.m.

How do we reconcile our freedom of choice with those who feel they have the right to health care?

Hemping: We are different here. I think we can find an American solution to this problem. But we cannot forget that 40 million - 45 million - (groans from audience) that do not have insurance.

Question: Why not expand Medicare to everyone?

Hudson: Frankly, I don't want government running my health care. I don't think we need to expand Medicare.

Updated: 7:17 p.m.

Tweet question: Why does the solution have to come from government? Can't we have citizen enforce the reform?

Gauta: The solution does not have to come from government. We don't need to fix some health care elements. There are some things we need to fix. And I don't believe the government has to be involved. We, as Americans, can fix it without government, but we have to think, as we are tonight, out of the box.

Updated: 7:13 p.m.

Tweet question: Are there provisions in a package that would prevent us from losing quality (in health care) as has been experienced in the United Kingdom and Canada?

State Rep Matt Hudson: We already have a challenge in Florida finding providers who will take Medicaid payment.. Quality is going to suffer. A great deal of work needs to be done as it relates to quality.

Updated: 7:10 p.m.

Tweet question- "I'm 26 - How much would hi have to pay over the course of a lifetime?

Gauta. "I don't sell insurance so I'm not sure. We probably have some of the most expensive health premiums in the world... Somehow all of us will all pay for it, for the rest of our lives. Maybe $6,000 a year for next 40 years of your life."

Updated: 7:06 p.m.

Mike Reagen, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, referred to the audience as a very robust group. But he asked folks to keep it civil. This occurred right after a panelist delivered an answer much of the audience didn't like. There was an audible chorus of "boos."

Updated: 7:04 p.m.

Question: What is chance of physicians opting out of HR 3200?

Gauta: I really don't think physicians want government telling physicians what patients they should or should not take.

There may be a requirement to opt in to this plan. That may be a mistake.

Updated: 6:59 p.m.

Question: How should we trust insurance companies?

Having more players in an area would probably make them more efficient and honest.

Question: How would reform affect diabetes?

Gauta: Health care reform would focus on prevention. Any healt hcare reform issue will have to deal with prevention of these diseases.

Health care insurance should be more like we have for our cars; we have the ability to make choices. We can pick the foods we put into our mouths, take a walk instead of watching TV.

Question: How can we ensure that laws passed will be implemented? A great many laws have been passed, not implemented.

Steve Hemping: When a law is passed they have to have the funding for the legislation to make sure these things are followed up on.

In this particular case, I don't know exact history: It is a good piece of legislation that needs to be passed.

Updated: 6:47 p.m.

Matt Hudson said he thinks there's major reforms that could occur with cross-bordering. (Carrying insurance when one moves from one state to another.)

Joe Gauta said there will be some cost to U.S. citizens because there are about 45 million citizens who are not covered by health insurance now. Unavoidable, but we won't get the money except from our own citizens.

Updated: 6:39 p.m.

Question: Should everyone have catastrophic health care?

Allen Weiss said everyone deserves to have catastrophic health care but there are preventive medical ways: get flu shots, don't smoke.

Updated: 6:34 p.m.

Tweet question: Why should I be forced to be made to pay for health care of someone else?

Joe Gauta, Collier County Medical Society president, replied.

"That is a very tough question. We in America have more choice. The public option is something that can only be paid for through tax dollars. If we're going to give all of our citizens health care, it probably is going to be shouldered by everyone."

Question: Is health care a commodity or a basic human right?

Citing salaries of chief operating officers.

Hemping: "I view health care as a right." (applause) "This is one of the reasons we are discussing a public option."

Tweet question: Does everyone agree that health systems needs reform?

Matt Hudson: "I would tell you it depends a great deal on your definition of reform."

Updated 6:27 p.m.

"I watched health care rise more than twice th rate of inflation year after year," said

Steve Hemping, expert in human resources field. "Current health care spending of 70 percent of GDP is far too much. The current system is dependent on a small number of insurance companies. Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Aetna control about 50 percent in Florida.

"Another dangerous tread is the shrinking number of providers who can afford to provide medicine. (They are) strangled by insurance companies, administrative fees and demands.

"Our health care system is broken. There's wide agreement on need for change, but little agreement on how to reform the health care system. That's why we're here tonight.

"Medicare administrative costs are far lower than those in private insurance business. And Medicare patients choose their own doctors and hospitals. America is only major country that doesn't offered a government-sponsored health care plan."

Updated 6:15 p.m.

The Tweet Town Hall on health care is being watched by groups at Florida Gulf Coast University, Hodges University, Broward College, Naples link-up at Mercato and other groups, including those in Tampa and Tallahassee.

Among those introduced are Joe Gauta, Collier County Medical Society president; Allen Weiss, president and CEO of NCH Healthcare Systems; Steve Hemping, expert in human resources field; and state Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples.

Hudson said this forum was created about two weeks ago. This is the debate of our day, he said.

"Our federal partners need to hear from us."

Gauta said health care debates waged in the U.S. in the last three months are very personal to he and his family.

"You've heard many buzzwords. I hope I can express to you an educated perspective on what we think we know on health care, so you can make good decisions for yourself," he said. Buzz words: cost, cost shifting, rationing.

Updated 5:55 p.m.

It is standing room only for the town hall meeting on health care at the Naples Daily News's building tonight. Panelists include Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples; Allen Weiss, president and chief executive officer of NCH Healthcare Systems; and Joseph Gauta, president of the Collier County Medical Society.

5:25 p.m.

The lobby of the Daily News office is filling up with about 60 people in anticipation of tonight's town hall meeting.

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