Everyone has an opinion about health care reform, evident in the turnout of more than 150 people for an event last Thursday morning at the Heritage Highlands clubhouse in Dove Mountain.

For two hours, Arizona House Democratic assistant leader Kyrsten Sinema hosted a public forum on proposed health care reform, answering the public's questions on behalf of the White House Health Reform Task Force.

On hand to read and sort questions were Rep. Nancy Young Wright, D-Tucson, and Rep. Pat Fleming, D-Sierra Vista.

Sinema answered questions on whether proposed health care plans would cover abortions, illegal immigrants, mental health, malpractice lawsuits and many more of the "hot topics" surrounding the subject.

"The goal of this event is not to convince you to support or not support any piece of legislation," Sinema said of the forum. "It is not to ask you to sign up for or sign against anything that is happening in Congress. It's really to help you get the information you crave and I hope want to get."

Some did not think attention was given to certain issues.

"(Sinema) doesn't answer any questions," Marana resident Tom Dunn said. "Nancy Young Wright is deciding which questions are acceptable. She hasn't answered any questions regarding tort reform. This is clearly a waste of time."

Others found the meeting to be a positive and informative forum.

"I thought it answered a lot of questions," said J.J. Geis-Rolle. "I'm glad we have someone who is involved with the federal process with the state. I think that is important. Each state does have different needs and it's good input to the federal process."

People who filled the conference room carried flyers and signs, while others came with a pen, their questions and concerns.

For the first portion of the forum, Sinema covered the basics President Obama and his task force have decided to focus upon.

"Our health care system is broken," Sinema said in a PowerPoint presentation. "People are paying more for health insurance that covers less. Families are concerned with eroding benefits, higher premiums and loss of coverage. Every day in America, millions go without health coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Our nation cannot wait any longer for health reform. (And) we need it now."

She suggested how House Resolution 3200 could work for the country by providing  "affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes."

Obama's intent

President Obama is committed to supporting a health reform that:

• reduces costs for families, business, and government;

• protects choice of doctors, hospitals, and health plans;

• assures quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Source: The White House Health Reform Task Force

The task force

The White House Health Reform Task Force was established on June 9 by President Obama. It includes 32 state leaders around the country tasked with sharing President Obama's vision for health reform; sharing information about Congress's work on health reform; answering questions, and dispelling myths about health reform; gathering information about what citizens want and need from national health reform.

Source: The White House Health Reform Task Force

House bill 3200

House Tri-Committee Bill, House Resolution 3200 would:

• require all individuals to have health insurance;

• create a health insurance exchange through which individuals and smaller employers can purchase health coverage, with credits available to families with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level (or $73,240 for a family of three in 2009);

• require employers to provide coverage to employees with exceptions for certain small employers, and provide certain small employers a credit to offset the costs of providing coverage;

• impose new regulations on plans participating in the exchange and in the small group insurance market;

• expand Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the poverty level;

• strengthen primary care and care coordination by increasing Medicaid payments for primary care providers;

• develop a national strategy to improve the nation's health through evidenced-based clinical and community-based prevention and wellness activities.

Half the cost of the plan is financed through savings from Medicare and Medicaid, the remaining costs are financed through a surcharge imposed on families with incomes above $350,000 and individuals with incomes about $280,000.

Source: The White House Health Reform Task Force

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