The U.P.’s voice in Congress holds his first in-person town hall meeting since the health care reform debate began.
And he hears concern and fear from area residents.
By Congressman Bart Stupak’s count, more than 80,000 people in the Congressional district don’t have any kind of health insurance.
And many small businesses that offered it in the past for employees no longer do.
Some are concerned how those issues should be addressed, thinking the private sector should initiate reform instead.
Thomas Johnston of Marquette is one of those residents.
He said the federal government has never taken over anything and made it more efficient.
Stupak says the House bill wouldn’t take it over, but add a public option to the private insurance plans out there and give them something to compete with.
He said with only about 38% of small businesses now able to offer coverage to their employees, something needs to be done about costs because such businesses can’t afford them.
Some residents criticized Stupak for voting for the federal stimulus bill.
Peter Sundholm of Rapid River was one of those, saying that only 6-8% of the bill is dedicated to public projects that will put people to work.
Stupak mentioned that in Marquette County alone, it provides $30 million for those sorts of projects, including more than $5 million for Negaunee itself, and that local contractors will be the people doing all of that work.
Others were a bit more supportive, asking where the concern was during the Bush administration.
The unidentified man mentioned the decision to invade Iraq without a clear strategy and with the expectation that Iraqi oil reserves would pay for the war.
He also mentioned the Bush tax cuts, which he said benefited mainly the very wealthiest Americans on the idea they would spur job creation.
The man said neither of those things came to pass.
Stupak is having another town hall meeting by phone Wednesday night at 6pm Eastern time.