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|Vitter favors piecemeal approach to health care reform|
U.S. Sen. David Vitter is afraid any government-led health care reforms could lead to what he called "a single-payer, government-run system."
Instead, Vitter wants to see incremental reforms targeted at specific areas of the U.S. health care system.
That was the message Vitter drove home to a crowd of more than 300, who turned out at the University of Louisiana-Monroe for a town hall meeting Tuesday.
Vitter applauded the audience for demonstrating their displeasure at proposed health care legislation.
"Nancy Pelosi may consider you an un-American mob, but I'm glad you're here," said Vitter, R-Metairie. His remark drew a standing ovation.
The meeting was one of several town hall meetings on health care reform Vitter scheduled around the state. The town hall gatherings are being held while Congress takes a month off for what is commonly known as the August recess.
Vitter was joined by West Monroe radiologist Henry Hollenberg and local businessman Wade Bishop at the event at ULM.
Vitter said he invited the two men because it was important to hear from two of the groups with large stakes in the health care debate.
Vitter noted several areas of the health care debate he called "critical" and said he was pleased there will be no vote on a health care bill for weeks.
Vitter criticized House and Senate Democrats who could not give examples from the bill "because they haven't read it."
When asked how many Democrats had read the bill and understood the various proposals on how to overhaul the nation's health care system, Vitter sighed.
"I have zero confidence that they have read it," Vitter said. "Zero, zip, nada."
When asked if he had read all 1,000 pages of a health care bill under consideration by Congress and understood it, Vitter's response was straight-forward.
"No, I have not and I don't," Vitter said. "Much of the language is very vague and unclear."
That vague language was one of the concerns Vitter expressed with an omnibus overhaul of the nation's health care system.
Vitter said he feared any health care plan would pave the way for a national, single-payer system in which the federal government pays all medical bills and makes medical decisions.
Instead, Vitter offered his own three-pronged approach to healthcare reform.
Vitter told the crowd he supported health care cooperatives, which would allow individuals, groups and small businesses to pool resources across state lines to negotiate better discounts from insurance providers.
Vitter also said he wants to pass a law legalizing the re-importation of "cheaper drugs from Canada and other nations," where drug costs are far lower.
Vitter's third step in health care reform would be to overhaul the nation's legal system to make it harder to sue doctors, he said.
"You can take enormous costs out of the system without sacrifices to patient care," Vitter said.
During a question and answer session following Vitter's speech, Monroe resident Frieda Bryan asked him if government-run healthcare reforms were a "hidden agenda to allow tax-payer abortions?"
"I think there is that agenda," Vitter told Bryan. "I just don't think it's that hidden."
Vitter said he doubts any health care reform package containing taxpayer funding for private care will pass because Senate rules require 60 votes to pass "pretty much anything."
"When I first got to the Senate, I studied the Senate rules and really didn't like the 60 vote requirements," Vitter said. "Now, I like them just a little more."