by Keith Barber


Joyce Krawiec led roughly 30 people inside the Greensboro office of US Senator Kay Hagan on Aug. 13. Krawiec was armed with more than 70 handwritten letters from citizens concerned about House Bill 3200, otherwise known as America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. “We think it’s a monstrosity,” Krawiec said to Jennifer Johnson, the director of constituent services for the Democratic senator. “We don’t want to see the whole healthcare system turned upside down.” Johnson politely explained to the group that Hagan was out of the office but she would make sure the letters made their way into the senator’s hands. Outside Hagan’s office, Krawiec said the message in the citizen letters is clear. “The message we’re taking to our representatives is you represent us,” Krawiec said. “You are not an arm of the Obama administration. You are elected by the people in North Carolina and you are answerable to us.” The group then traveled to Rep. Brad Miller’s office on South Elm Street. Nikki Wilson, Rep. Miller’s constituent services representative, greeted the contingent. Krawiec expressed the group’s dismay that Miller, a Democrat who represents North Carolina’s 13 th District, was not going to hold town-hall meetings on the healthcare reform debate during the August recess. Heather Parsons, Rep. Miller’s legislative director, said the congressman never had plans to hold town-hall meetings on healthcare reform, but confirmed that his office received a threatening phone call several weeks ago that cemented Miller’s decision. “The caller said the congressman knew this healthcare debate was going to end his life,” Parsons said. “That adds to a decision not to schedule town-hall meetings.” Parsons said Miller has scheduled meetings with individuals and small groups, including people in opposition to the bill. Wilson told the letter-writing group that Miller has voiced his support for the public option for healthcare insurance. “Make sure that Nikki has your letters, gang,” Krawiec said before leading the group to Democratic Rep. Mel Watt’s office on South Greene Street. Krawiec acknowledged that her group is affiliated with Freedom Works, which is led by former US House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Freedom Works “fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all,” according to the organization’s website. The state chapter of Freedom Works staged a protest to President Obama’s healthcare plan in Raleigh when the president held a town hall meeting at Broughton High School on July 29. “None of us are paid,” Krawiec said. “We don’t get paid and we don’t get shipped in. We are local folks.” Nancy Bishop, a retired IRS employee and Greensboro resident said she wrote letters to Hagan, Miller and Watt because of her concerns of a government takeover of healthcare. A former civil servant, Bishop said she has access to the same plan that members of Congress enjoy, and all Americans should have the same option. “Everyone should have an opportunity for health insurance,” Bishop said. “There should be provisions for the elderly, but I am certainly opposed to any illegal aliens getting health insurance with my money.” Bishop acknowledged that not everyone could afford the premiums mandated by the federal employees’ group plan, and agreed there needs to be some sort of reform. Dinah Fisher, a Kernersville resident, also joined the letter-writing campaign. “There are piecemeal [solutions] slowly and thoughtfully addressed that everyone can agree on, that would move us forward in healthcare reform but this is destruction,” Fisher said. The major provisions of the HB 3200 include a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers; a requirement that all Americans have health insurance; no denial of coverage because of a pre-existing condition; and reducing growth in health care spending by Americans. President Barack Obama has consistently stated that his healthcare reform plan is not a “takeover” of the health insurance industry. During a recent visit to Broughton High School in Raleigh, Obama outlined the major tenets of his plan. “Under the reform I’ve proposed, if you like your doctor, you keep your doctor,” Obama said. “If you like your healthcare plan, you keep your healthcare plan. These folks [opposed to healthcare reform legislation] need to stop scaring everybody.” Obama’s plan guarantees all Americans a choice of doctors and healthcare plans, according to the White House website. Krawiec said the nation’s health care system will be overburdened if 46 million people suddenly have health care insurance. “If you read certain portions of this bill, they want to insure [46] million new people. Well, where are the new doctors going to come from?” Krawiec asked. “They say it’s not going to be rationed care. It’s going to automatically be rationed because you’re bringing in [46] million new people and you’re not increasing the number of doctors out there or the number of healthcare providers, so it’s going to be rationed care.”