Georgia Congressman John Barrow said Thursday he did not vote for the health care reform bill that passed the House of Representatives Sunday because he believes it would ultimately tax the people it was trying to help too much and did not address some core problems with health care.
Barrow, who represents Statesboro and Bulloch County as part of District 12, appeared Thursday on the “Mornings unPHILtered” show. Host Phil Boyum started off by asking Barrow what he thinks will be the effects of the health care bill now signed into law.
Barrow said he feared the most serious negative effects would be felt by the poorest Americans whom it was supposed to help. Barrow said that with the passage of this new bill, patients seeking help under the Medicaid program will find that there are even fewer doctors accepting Medicaid patients.
Furthermore, Barrow said, in many rural areas access to health care may become totally unavailable. Doctors have two major problems with Medicaid: first, how little the doctors get paid for the services they provide, and secondly, over how long it takes for them to receive payments for the services they render.
The payments they receive, doctors say, don't even begin to cover what it costs them to provide these services. Until the doctors concerns about their reimbursements are addressed, Barrow said, even more doctors will continue to drop out of the system.
Boyum asked why he had held off declaring whether or not he would vote for or against the bill, Barrow said the Reconciliation Bill wasn't even available to read until last Thursday. Barrow said many of his colleagues had declared their support or opposition without ever seeing the bill.
Barrow said there was never any debate over addressing his concerns about the deleterious effects the bill would have on rural populations and underserved areas, unlike how the Democratic leadership made changes in the bill's language to address the concerns on the abortion issue.
Barrow said the logical way to approach this issue would have been for the Senate and House to have broken the bill down into its major component paths. Barrow ventured that if they had done this, the legislators would have avoided the highly-charged atmosphere in Washington that now exists.
When Boyum said people on both sides of the health care bill have expressed to him that they aren't going to vote for Barrow no matter how he had voted, Barrow said there were always going to be those voters who saw this issue as him being either 'for us' or 'against us.'
Boyum asked Barrow if the domination in most Congressional districts by one party or another doesn't make it hard for legislators to take a rational and level-headed approach when considering important issues such as health care.
Barrow said he thinks that most people in Congress today are actually representative of their districts, but said it is the way the districts were drawn up that don't represent the true overall make-up of the whole country.
In fact, Barrow said that during the health care debates in Congress it often seemed as if the Republicans and Democrats in both houses were acting like two large tribes who were opposing each other in battle.
Barrow singled out the Home Star program mentioned by President Obama when he visited Savannah as a new program that has great potential and seems to already be gaining support. Barrow said that he, personally, is focusing on Cyber-Security, energy policies, and Veterans issues.
“Mornings unPHILtered” airs live Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on statesboroherald.com and also simulcast on WWNS-AM 1240 on the radio. You also can listen anytime at BoroLive.com on statesboroherald.com