Health care dominates Fischer "listening session" in Omaha

Sen. Deb Fischer talks to people before a "listening session" in Omaha Friday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
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June 16, 2017 - 4:47pm

Discussion of health care dominated as Nebraska U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer hosted a “listening session” in Omaha Friday. (For the NET News Facebook page containing a video of the entire session, click here).

The health care discussion started with the very first question, as a woman asked about a bill Senate Republicans are crafting that may include cuts, including to Medicaid. “When or if the Senate’s secretive group that includes these cuts, how will you justify your vote for it?” she asked Fischer.

“I don’t have to justify a vote right now because we’re still working on a proposal,” Fischer responded.

The senator said she agreed there should be a hearing on the issue.

“I have requested from Sen. McConnell that we would have a hearing on the subject of health care so that members of the different committees can present their views on both sides of the issue,” she said.

Another attendee, Alan Meyer, advocated for a single payer system.

“You just said a minute ago that you liked to see what works,” Meyer said. “There are countries all over the world that have seen that publicly-funded health care is what works. It’s cheaper. They have better health care than we do. So I really want you to consider publicly-funded health care.”

Fischer answered with reference to problems with the existing Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare.

“I am supportive of the marketplace and being able to have plans where people can choose the benefits that they want. And I realize that there are many of you here today who are opposed to that. But I have heard from thousands of people whose lives have been disrupted because they are not able to have the insurance coverage that they wanted. They have lost their physicians. Their children are not able to get care at certain hospitals anymore. And it’s been a disruption for their lives as well,” Fischer said.

Fischer said she wants to see a Congressional Budget Office “score,” or analysis of the Senate’s health care bill before she’ll vote for it. She said it should cover preexisting conditions. And she also said she would support defunding Planned Parenthood as part of any bill.

While many in the audience challenged Fischer’s positions, others were supportive. One woman thanked her for support on a Teamster’s retirement issue, provoking pushback from the crowd.

“I want to tell you, Sen. Fischer is not an extremist, no matter what anybody here thinks. This lady has stepped up. And my advice to everybody here: if you are that concerned about your situation, you guys need to be getting your butts to D.C. You need to be walking those halls. And you need to be talking to people,” the woman said, as others in the audience jeered.

Fischer urged people to be polite.

“I would hope that we could continue to show respect here. We’re in Omaha. We’re in Nebraska. Let’s allow people to ask questions, and I will try to respond,” she said.

Will Fields of Omaha asked Fischer why, since she opposes charter schools, she supported President Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. Fischer said the secretary’s job is to run the department, not to propose legislation.

“Why did I support her? Because she can administrate that department,” she said.

Fields persisted.

“She’s absolutely put there to destroy the system we currently have. Why did you support her?” he said.

Fischer persisted as well.

“I answered your question. You didn’t like my answer but I answered your question and said she had the ability to administer that department,” she said.

After the scheduled 60 minutes of questions, Fischer chatted with a few more people individually before ending the listening session.



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