EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the past month, ThinkProgress has traveled to town hall events across the country to report what we’re seeing on the ground. This is our eighth eyewitness report.
This past Wednesday, ThinkProgress attended a health care town hall forum held by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) in Melbourne, FL. During the event, Posey expressed his opposition to a public option. On the day of the town hall, the lead editorial in the local newspaper — The Florida Today — noted that Posey receives excellent health care as a member of Congress:
Keep in mind Posey received free health care premiums courtesy of taxpayers during his many years in the Florida Legislature. And that taxpayers pay up to 70 percent of Congress members’ premiums. In the real world, more Americans are losing health care and dying for lack of it every day.
During the question-and-answer session, an attendee ask Posey, “Why should taxpayers pay for your insurance when you clearly make enough money to pay for it on your own?” After reading the question aloud, Posey quipped, “One of the perks of the job I guess!” A member of the audience yelled out, “You’re welcome!” Posey concluded by saying that he “needed to get a more detailed breakdown to better answer the question.”
At the town hall, Posey expressed his unwillingness to extend the same “perks” he receives — guaranteed, affordable, quality insurance — to all Americans. He said he opposes the public option, and told the crowd that, if Congress passes it, all members should be required to enroll in it.
After the event, ThinkProgress confronted Posey about his objections to a public plan; we asked him whether he’s also against Medicare:
TP: I heard you’re against the public option tonight. Are you also against Medicare for your constituents? …
POSEY: No, we have Medicare now. I don’t have a problem with Medicare.
TP: Why not a problem with Medicare then? A public option is giving an option to all Americans just like Medicare.
TP: What’s the difference?
POSEY: There’s a big difference.
At that point, a Posey staff member pulled him away from our conversation. Watch it:
Of course, Posey is for Medicare; it appeared that a majority of the crowd on Wednesday night consisted of seniors. Nevertheless, he supports a “tenther” provision that would theoretically declare Medicare unconstitutional in Florida. And he refuses to give all Americans the option to buy into quality, affordable coverage that both he and seniors enjoy.