***WATCH VIDEO OF THE FULL E-TOWN HALL HERE***
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held an electronic town hall yesterday evening to answer questions from Ohioans about health insurance reform. Brown answered nearly 30 questions from Ohioans during the live, hour-long question and answer session online.
“Health insurance reform means that Ohio middle class families will finally have access to high quality health coverage they can afford,” Brown said. “I’ve met with Ohioans across the state, and it’s clear the status quo is working for big insurance companies, but it’s not working for American families and businesses. I’m committed to passing health insurance reform that puts people before special interests.”
This was the fourth town hall-style forum Brown, a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, held to discuss the rising cost of health insurance. Brown is speaking directly to Ohioans about what the proposed legislation would mean for middle class families.
During last night’s E-town hall, Brown answered a broad range of questions on issues associated with health care reform including insurance coverage, cost, prescription drug prices, Medicare benefits, the public option, doctor availability, insurance industry denial of coverage, premium pricing, coverage for young workers, access to biologic drugs, health care for small business, underinsurance, the uninsured, tort reform, deregulation of intra-state competition, and health savings accounts. He dispelled many common misconceptions about health care reform, including false allegations that the bill covers abortion, imposes “death panels”, rations care, or provides benefits to illegal immigrants. Brown also answered questions about his personal insurance coverage, how he read the bill, and his authorship of key cost-saving provisions in the HELP-passed bill.
Brown has traveled across Ohio to meet with constituents. Since 2007, Brown has held more than 130 roundtables across the state, holding at least one community roundtable in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. Over the past three months, he had met with diverse groups of Ohioans to talk about how proposed health reform can cut costs and improve quality of care. A sampling of events Brown attended can be found below:
• September 7- Brown joined President Obama to discuss health reform at the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic.
• September 4- Brown participated in a panel discussion entitled: “The Heart of Health Care Reform,” which aired earlier this week on Ohio television stations through ONN.
• September 3- Brown kicked off the 2009-10 Youngstown State University Center for Working-Class Studies Lecture Series by giving a speech entitled “The Health Care Crisis and Working-Class Communities.” He participated in a question and answer session afterwards, staying at the event until he answered every single audience member wishing to ask a question.
• September 1- Brown held a “town hall”-style health forum at the University of Cincinnati where he took questions from an audience of more than 1,200 about health care reform.
• August 12- Brown outlined how health insurance reform will reduce private insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health care expenses during a “town hall”-style forum at Ohio State University. He answered questions from the 500+ person audience.
• August 11- Brown held a forum in Cambridge entitled, “Health Insurance Reform—What’s In It for You?” He received testimony from Ohioans struggling with rising health costs and access to medical care.
• August 11- Brown discussed the effect of health insurance reform on small businesses and took questions at the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce.
• July 5- Brown toured the MedWorks free medical clinic in Cleveland and helped to register uninsured and underinsured Ohioans who made appointments with volunteer health care workers.
• June 30- Brown and U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus visited Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to discuss congressional efforts to make health care more affordable and accessible.
In Ohio, average family health insurance premiums have increased by 92 percent since 2000 while wages have stagnated. Ohio families and businesses pay a “hidden tax” of around $1,000 per year – meaning that insurers raise their premiums by an average of $1,000 to subsidize the costs of the uninsured. Nearly 400 Ohioans lose their health insurance each day. Eleven percent of Ohioans are uninsured – 64 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.
High health costs are also undermining the competitiveness of Ohio businesses. While small businesses make up 72 percent of Ohio businesses, only 47 percent of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006. Businesses also pay high costs to cover their employees, due to limited choice of health insurance in Ohio. The top two health insurance providers in the Cincinnati area account for 85 percent of the health insurance market in Ohio.