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Goodlatte set to host health care town hall

By Garren Shipley -- gshipley@nvdaily.com

A local congressman is set to listen to his constituents' views on health care reform this morning, but for him, the current bill moving through Congress is a non-starter.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, will meet with valley residents today at 10 a.m. at Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater to talk about health care reform and other issues.

Just over 1 million Virginians, or 14.2 percent, had no health insurance in 2007, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. President Obama and congressional Democrats have made major changes to the nation's insurance system a major priority.

But the legislation working its way through Congress would put too much power in the hands of Washington, according to Goodlatte.

"This one-size fits all proposal would steer the country toward a government-run health care system likely marked by little choice and long lines," Goodlatte wrote in an e-mail to reporters Friday.

"I oppose this bill and the Democrat Leadership's mad rush to ram the bill through with no opportunity for alternative ideas," he wrote.

Democrats have shown no interest in simple changes that could have made the America's Affordable Health Choices act much more palatable to Republicans -- and the public, he said.

House Democrats have turned back a number of amendments to the bill that Goodlatte says are "simply common sense."

For example, Democrats defeated an amendment that would have required members of Congress to give up their existing health plans and join any public plan created by the legislation.

"If members of Congress are convinced that the public, government-run option will deliver the same quality of care as their current health insurance plans, then they should be willing to enroll in the public option automatically," Goodlatte said.

"Congress should not ask the American people to make sacrifices they are not willing to make themselves," he said.

Another amendment would have expressly barred illegal immigrants from joining the newly created public plan.

Supporters of the bill say it already forbids health care payments for those illegally in the U.S., but an amendment that would have directly prohibited such payments was defeated at the committee level.

"Any health care reform legislation that Congress considers must ensure that taxpayers are not responsible for paying for health care provided to individuals who are residing in the U.S. illegally, but apparently the Democrats disagree," Goodlatte said.

Congress returns to Washington on Tuesday.

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