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Foster hears support for government-paid health care plans at forum

Apr 14, 2017
In The News

More than 200 people gathered Thursday for a Naperville community forum on health care and the Affordable Care Act, many of whom told U.S. Rep. Bill Foster Thursday they support a single-payer or universal health care system.

"I really do think we should extend it, even if we do it gradually, to universal Medicare," said Mary Hobein, of Woodridge, speaking at the Foster-sponsored forum at Community Christian Church's Yellow Box theater, which featured health care experts and constituents who have benefited by having insurance through the ACA.

"There are ways to pay for this, I believe, and one of them is to take off or at least reduce the income cap for Social Security. I don't understand why there is so much resistance to universal health care."

Proposals for universal health care or a single-payer system raise difficult debates in Congress, Foster said.

"The question is who's going to pay for it. It always is who's going to pay for it," said Foster, D-Naperville. "And this is a deep philosophical difference between the two parties."

The divide stems from whether or not people believe it is their duty to extend a helping hand to those who are in unfortunate medical conditions, Foster said. "My party's feel is that within limits, this has to be part of the social contract, and it's not an easy thing," he said.

Naperville resident Bill Rickert started his own cost-savings consulting business about a year ago after working in the corporate world for 35 years. He asked about people who don't qualify for subsidies in the health care marketplace.

"If you don't qualify for the subsidies, has there been any consideration of having small businesses be able to band together and/or nonprofits being able to band together to get the group rate coverage to make health care more affordable," Rickert asked.

The dangers in that is the companies who would join together are the ones with big medical problems, which makes it tricky, Foster said.

Rickert, who's lived in Naperville for about 30 years, attended the forum because he wanted to learn more about what was being done in the name of health care. He added that people should "give Trump a chance" as he's been in office for less than 90 days.

While the Republicans' proposal "ended up going down in flames," now is the time to be discussing how a modified plan with some of the same features could affect everyone, Foster said.

"When we're talking about now repealing, eliminating some of the very provisions that saved people's lives, I think everyone could step back and look at the fact that we're all in this together and no one knows how their life will end financially or medically," Foster said. "There is a role for the government to guarantee that if things don't go well that you'll at least be getting a basic level of health care that allows you to live a dignified life."

Bringing down drug costs, especially for people with rare diseases, is a crucial issue to Foster as well.

"Our country has to come together to understand how we will help the people that have rare diseases for which there is only a very expensive cure because you never know when you're going to win the lottery of the wombs as they say," Foster said.

After the forum wrapped up, Foster said he thinks the event went well.

"I'm still bearing the wounds from previous town halls from 2010 that we had during the time when the Affordable Care Act was passed," Foster said. "It's very gratifying that well over half of Americans how think the Affordable Care Act is something good and worth preserving."