Rep. Henry “Bluedog Democrat” Cuellar hosted the first Healthcare forum in the Valley at 3:15pm this past Monday. The majority of the 2,500 participants were retired and/or senior citizens, who controlled the anti-reform tone of the event. On top of this already skewed constituency, the majority in attendance were not Latino even though the Valley itself is more than 80% Latino American.
Hundreds of people had their hands raised, but only about 20 or so questions were asked – all but 3 of which were anti-reform. One participant even asked about “death panels” – an issue that has been discredited by lawmakers and news agencies as a false rumor perpetrated by right-wing groups. Instead of debunking this myth and helping end the unwarranted fear against healthcare reform, Rep. Cuellar merely stated he also “didn’t want to see any death panels.”
Juanita Valdez-Cox asked a question regarding the startling number of the over 200,000 uninsured in the Valley and how crucial the public option is for healthcare reform. While Rep. Cuellar did acknowledge the need for reform to help the ‘working class’ (largely unrepresented in this forum), he ultimately said he would not support the bill as it stands now and did not give any concrete insight on what kind of reform he proposes will help the uninsured in the Valley.
(LUPE, the Southwest Workers’ Union and others were there to represent the voices of an unheard majority of the Valley’s Latino working class.)
Kudos to the participant that shed light on the fact that we are spending billions for illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, when that money could certainly be used for things such as making healthcare more accessible to the American public. Let’s hope future town halls will allow for a more honest and productive discussion on how Healthcare Reform can truly bring about systematic change for those that need it most.
For more thoughts on this town hall, check out this great op-ed.