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August 18, 2009 - 10:41am

Senator Gillibrand at the Sweet Briar Monday Night

posted by Bea McManis in National Politics, Gillibrand, health care reform.

It was a hot, humid night but Senator Gillibrand looked cool and comfortable at the Sweet Briar last evening. 

A small group of protesters gathered at the front entrance and were treated to the Senator walking up the hill to meet with them.

The Senator discussed issues facing local dairy farmers; jobs; and health care reform. 

Her message on health care was clear, concise and easy to understand.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand believes that the high cost of health care is a serious problem for families and for employers, who struggle with the high cost of providing health insurance for their employees. The problem is getting worse - more than 45 million Americans, and 2.5 million New Yorkers, are uninsured and millions of families and businesses are struggling with skyrocketing health care costs. In Congress, she will continue to fight to expand health care access and protect the coverage for those at risk of losing it. In the Senate, she will work with President Obama to reform our health care system and make it work for all of us.

Comprehensive Health Care Reform

Senator Gillibrand plans to work with President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius, and Senators Kennedy and Baucus, Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Health and on Finance, respectively, to embark on comprehensive health care reform. 

Currently, Americans spend more on health care than any other country in the world. In 2007, average spending per person on health care was over $6000 in America, compared with approximately $3000 in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.  Senator Gillibrand believes that we must get these spiraling costs under control, and take the important steps towards real reform.

Expanding Health Care Access

Senator Gillibrand is working with President Obama and his Administration to fix America's broken health care system, give power back to patients and families, and provide affordable, quality health care to every single American. Senator Gillibrand has been a leader in promoting health care access and affordability throughout her time in Congress.

In February, Senator Gillibrand worked with President Obama to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which was then signed into law. This law will provide 11 million lower and middle income children access to basic health care coverage.  Senator Gillibrand was a fierce advocate for this law, voting in the House of Representatives seven times to expand the program. 

In fact, she was the only Member of Congress to vote for the expansion in both the House and the Senate, and she joined President Obama at the White House when he signed the bill.

Protecting Social Security and Medicare

In the Senate, she will continue to fight to expand health care access and protect the coverage for those at risk of losing it.  In the Senate, she will work with President Obama to reform our health care system and make it work for all of us.  Senator Gillibrand has been a strong advocate for Medicare, ensuring that New York's seniors have access to quality, affordable health care.  Last summer, Senator Gillibrand voted twice for the

Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.  This new law made a number of significant improvements to Medicare including expanding coverage of Medicare preventive services, providing greater benefits for low-income seniors, and reversing a detrimental payment cut to the doctors who care for Medicare patients. Senator Gillibrand remains committed to making sure that America's seniors always have access to the health care they need.

Helping Small Businesses Provide Health Care

Senator Gillibrand has been at the forefront of new efforts to make health care more affordable for small businesses.  She cosponsored the SHOP Act to help small businesses provide health care to employees.  This legislation would create a tax credit for small businesses which provide health insurance for their workers and allow them to buy into a purchasing pool to reduce their costs.  More than 28 million uninsured individuals work for small businesses that cannot afford to offer health care.

Improving Health Care IT

To improve quality and efficiency, Senator Gillibrand has fought to increase our nation's investment in health care information technology.  In February, she voted to provide $19 billion for healthcare information technology across the country. This is important to help improve treatment, while reducing the cost of care.  Currently, one out of every five lab tests and X-rays are conducted solely because previous test results are unavailable. This waste and duplication in our system could be eliminated with improved electronic medical records and more integrated health information technology.

Peter O'Brien
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Did you copy most of that from her website? A quick google search shows you did...
Bea McManis
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Peter, congratulations on knowing how to search. Senator Gillibrand, last night, basically repeated what is on her website. In order NOT to misintrepret her words, it was easier to copy it. She is well spoken, relaxed and it was a joy to be in her presence last night. She isn't looking at health care reform through rose colored glasses. She understands the concerns and was blunt about the fact that everything that is wanted or needed isn't going to come about. One woman related that their health insurance premium and out of pocket prescriptions totaled almost $36,000 a year (yes, a year). This is obscene. Very few people can maintain paying that expense for an extended time. What is the current alternative? You are fortunate to have your insurance paid for you. Those who don't are struggling. There are many who can't get insurance because of pre-existing conditions. What is their current alternative? The senator discussed the options that would be available to those who don't get their insurance paid by their employers. Very much like senior citizens have options to purchase additional insurance to supplement their medicare (part B). There are many alternatives on the table. All require our citizens to be understand them then make informed decisions. Copied and pasted or quoted from memory. It was a memorable evening with our senator.
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I pay for my insurance, thank you very much. I have said I would reform things many times. Increasing the size of government is not my idea of reform. It is regression.
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I, too, wonder why the idea of health care reform is painted in only two colors, black or white. Either you're for reform, which means you support some form of government takeover of health care, or you're in favor keeping things just the way they are now. There is a third way: Reform health care without creating new government programs, perhaps even unwinding some of the ones that exist now. Just because a person opposes Obama's plan doesn't mean he or she is against reform.
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Posted by Peter O'Brien on August 18, 2009 - 12:18pm I pay for my insurance, thank you very much. USA > Canada ... to be seen for minor ailments; did you think that no one pays for that? It is reflected in your premiums. There is certainly room for ... up next week. I was blessed to have worked for a great employer, who had me covered with both health and disability insurance. While I ... Blog entry - Nebula - Aug 12 2009 - 8:27am - 49 comments
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I am covered but I pay my portion to the company.
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Posted by Howard Owens on August 18, 2009 - 12:24pm I, too, wonder why the idea of health care reform is painted in only two colors, black or white. Either you're for reform, which means you support some form of government takeover of health care, or you're in favor keeping things just the way they are now. There is a third way: Reform health care without creating new government programs, perhaps even unwinding some of the ones that exist now. Just because a person opposes Obama's plan doesn't mean he or she is against reform. There are a lot of ideas on the table and they should all be discussed. Cooler heads will prevail, I'm sure. The insurance companies will be able to sell their product and make a profit from those who can afford their inflated premiums. There will be options for those who want coverage but can't afford those premiums. I know you are against government programs. There are many senior citizens (in Peter's words - looters) who would not be able to afford insurance without medicare. As I asked before, what is the current alternative - that is not a government program?
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Government run programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Post Office. Which one is not broke? Answer = none. Government Health care: The VA; not a great example. Do you remember the Walter Reed Hospital scandal? That was supposed to be the best run government hospital in the country. Even now our military and their families have to wait and wait for care and this is government run. Their track record is poor, so way give them another program until they prove they can fix the ones they already have?
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Posted by John Roach on August 18, 2009 - 2:23pm Government run programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Post Office. Which one is not broke? Answer = none. Government Health care: The VA; not a great example. Do you remember the Walter Reed Hospital scandal? That was supposed to be the best run government hospital in the country. Even now our military and their families have to wait and wait for care and this is government run. Their track record is poor, so way give them another program until they prove they can fix the ones they already have? I don't believe that you are blaming the current president for all of these. I know you are more reasonable than that, John. There is no denying that there are problems that need to be fixed. They all can't be done in the first few months of a new administration. Hopefully, we'll see more action than we have in the past. There seems to be a concensus, at least on this board, that programs like social security, medicare and medicaid should be abolished. Should it be done in one fell swoop? Eliminate these programs and hang people out to dry? Would that really solve the problem?
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While the Senator is a very nice lady, and I say this with all due respect - she's a puppet. Senator Gillibrand has not a had an original thought during her entire career in Washington. (House or Senate.) The bills that she has co-sponsored have largely been symbolic and have been more for procedural and "fluff" items than for items that make a difference. The Senator seems to be a lap dog for the DNC and the current administration, only making appearances to read what is given to her. While she did meet with the 'small group of protesters', it definitely didn't involve taking any substantive questions or addressing any of the standard questions that other 'protesters' have had at other town hall meetings. I would also suggest that there was only a small group of 'protesters' in attendance because no one really knew it was happening. (Unless you get her e-mail updates or check her cookie cutter website.) Senator Gillibrand is a disappointment as a Senator. She's not fighting for the left. She's not fighting for the right. She's just not present for the conversation in the first place.
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Actually in the long run it would solve a lot of the problems. But people can't deal with it so it should be phased out. SS and Medicare should be ended for anyone under the age of 30. They should get what money they have paid into the two systems back. For the next 40-60 years until the current moochers (oh wait no one seems to see it as I do), call them entitlees) have passed, keep the systems alive with the general fund even though that is bankrupt. Medicade (notice its misspelling to give the appropriate connotation of drinking in the presence of Jim Jones) should be abolished completely. Remove all income taxes and switch to the Fair Tax so people are encouraged to save for retirement. Allow medical insurance companies to compete across state lines to increase competition and drive down prices. Have tort reform for malpractice law suits. Now someone explain to me why this will not help our economy, our future, and health care costs (because health care itself is not the issue).
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SS and Medicare should be ended for anyone under the age of 30. They should get what money they have paid into the two systems back. For the next 40-60 years until the current moochers (oh wait no one seems to see it as I do), call them entitlees) In other words, the current 'moochers' are mooching on a program into which they have paid for their entire adult lives? That makes them moochers? When you were collecting unemployment insurance, you incorrectly informed the board that you were entitled because you paid it. Then you switched gears and said you were shamed when you received the money that earlier you said you were entitled. You are right, most people don't see it the way you do. I honestly hope that you never have to face the prospect of a disease so horrible that you find yourself unable to work and unable to pay for the medical care you will need. I honestly hope that you will never find yourself in a position where your insurance drops you because you medical bills have reached catastrophic proportions. I honestly pray that you never have a child who is handicapped to the point that medical care and prescriptions force you to look for help. Your answer has always been, there are charities and there are relatives to whom one should turn. How many people have relatives with enough resources to carry that responsibility? How many charities can concentrate their entire effort to one individual? People who are in medicare or medicaid aren't moochers. People who are medicare have paid into that system for many, many years. Many on medicaid are children. Is your solution for them the Jim Jones route?
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Howard, healthcare reform is looked at that way because there's only two ways it can be taken: more profit and more beaurucracy, or removing the profit motive and the incentive for insurance companies to ration care. That's what a public option is all about. Despite whatever scare nonsense you've been told, having the government provide a non-profit health insurance choice isn't the same thing as a "government takeover." The only people who insist it is are the ones who make billions of dollars a year trying to insure that you get as little of what you've paid for as possible. Having a health insurance plan which is driven by making sure people actually get healthcare, instead of making sure that the executives get bigger jets and their eight Porsche, is what would bring real competition to healthcare. We trust the government to handle law enforcement, national defense, building the roads, and holding on to 6,000 nuclear weapons, but they can't be trusted to administer an insurance fund? Particularly when they already do so in the form of Medicare? That's nonsense.
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Bea, the points he made on health care reform are valid. If any one of those scenarios happened, and the reforms had taken place, then there shouldn't be the problems there are today. Switching to the Fair Tax would save people (and the government) millions of dollars, which could be spent on savings, new items, health care, etc If insurance companies could compete across state lines, competition would increase and rates would fall. If tort reform happened, doctors' insurance would fall, which would then decrease the cost of care. All of these reforms would decrease cost, increase competition, and allows customers to choose which insurance plan is best for them. If these reforms happened, then government health plans wouldn't need to be in place (eventually).
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Don't forget, this Obama wants the gov. to have all your health records. How many times have you read or heard on the news the gov. lost some computer with information on thousands of people. And you want them to keep your medical information? This is just one more reason to say no.
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Posted by Chelsea Dobson on August 18, 2009 - 4:08pm Bea, the points he made on health care reform are valid So it is valid to call those who paid into medicare and social security their entire lives and are now on those programs, 'moochers'; 'looters'? That is valid?
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"Bea, the points he made on health care reform are valid."
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Adama, there is a third way -- for-profit health care in the private sector without government favor. The health insurance industry is essentially a government-created monopoly. Rates are high because there essentially is no competition. Health care in this country started going off the rails when congress created HMOs. Fix that, and you fix health care. There's no need to create another poorly run, mismanaged, money-sucking government bureaucracy.
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BTW: I'm surprised nobody is talking about the fact that New York Democratic Governor David Patterson opposes Obama's government-run plan, saying it will cost the state too much money.
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Mr. Roach, With due respect to your opinion on the matter, the computer losing morons you cited were just people. I'm assuming you were referring to the incident where a government employee took a laptop home with him that was subsequently stolen. This particular idiot could have just as easily been working at central records for Excellus or Preferred Care. When I was in the Air Force, if I had taken a government computer home with me (for work purposes or otherwise) I would have been sent directly to jail and you can forget the $200. In my experience, the typical government employee takes information and communications security very seriously.
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Link Howard? I hadn't heard any public comments from Gov. Patterson. I'm not sure exactly what he thinks he's talking about since there are six or so versions of health care reform bills currently floating around Washington, none of them finalized.
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Chris, I don't have a link, but it was on the radio today.
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It's been on WBTA all day. Here's a Newsday story.
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Thanks for the link; I don't listen to the radio at work.
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Mr. Roach wrote : "Don't forget, this Obama wants the gov. to have all your health records. How many times have you read or heard on the news the gov. lost some computer with information on thousands of people. And you want them to keep your medical information? This is just one more reason to say no". For every three years since 1994 I have had to fill out 6 to 12 pages of reports to the government, not only once but to three different locations. Several phone calls and a few government paid doctors visits. Nothing of my medical situation has changed since 1994 and they act like they have no records of anything !
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Gabor, I know a person who filed a medical claim to his, government run health care program. The government sent it back saying they needed additional information. The information they wanted was on a second page they returned to him. His doctor’s office called the claim office to give them the “additional information”, and was told there was no claim ever filed. The doctor’s office told them they had the photo copies the government sent back and the name of the person who sent the claim back. They still insisted the claim had never been filed, despite them still having the originals (somewhere). Bottom line, everything had to be done over again. That is just one example, but you hear it too many times.
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Comparing the government's bureaucracy and incompetence to an insurance company's bureaucracy and incompetence is like comparing a Yugo to a Ford Pinto. If anybody expects the government to be any better, or any worse, than insurance companies, then I can only conclude, the NYSP helicopter hasn't found his or her crop yet of whatever it is they're smoking. The only way to fix this mess is to turn it over to the free market. We haven't had free market medical care for decades. Maybe it's time we get back to what worked before.
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That was a wonderful analogy.
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Posted by Howard Owens on August 18, 2009 - 7:07pm The only way to fix this mess is to turn it over to the free market. We haven't had free market medical care for decades. Maybe it's time we get back to what worked before. How many of the major insurance companies do you think will change their business model? Insurance companies will not insure pre-existing conditions and they drop those with catastrophic illness. What reason would they have to change that policy even in a free market? Both are bad risks. The people who are most affected by this are young adults. A young person who develops a chronic condition is covered under their parents' insurance. Many companies, even though they covered the medical expenses for years, can and will deny a policy to that same person once they reach the age when they need to purchase their own policy. Why? Pre-existing condition. One more in the long line of uninsured. What miracle of a free market is going to stop this practice...not one insurance company will compete for that individual's business. These are the people who need health care the most. If the insurance companies won't offer them an affordable policy then where else are they to turn?
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Bea, your scope of vision is very limited on this issue. You keep skipping over the fact that the insurance companies as we know them today are not free market enterprises. They're government sanctioned straight jackets -- government sanctioned robbery. The government created this mess with its HMO laws and other regulatory schemes and now you keep thinking the government is going to fix the problem it created. You come back at me repeatedly with the same tired formula of the insurance companies this and the insurance companies that ... totally ignoring that what you're arguing against is a government create system -- and you want more government!
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I am entitled but also ashamed, they are not mutually exclusive.
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I also noticed you couldn't argue the merits of my plan, you just chose to attack me... If SS and Medicare were good programs they wouldn't be broke. They would have the money needed to fund themselves. Since they don't, the money must becoming from somewhere other than the money the current moochers put into the system. At that point they are no longer using the money they put in. The adaptation of the Fair Tax would give the parents of the children on medicade more money, if they choose wisely they can cover the costs but unfortunately for too many poor families, a new TV and shiny rims on the car are more important.
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Howard, Perhaps you are right, but my questions still stand. In a free market do you believe that insurance companies, if unshackled by government regulations, would take the risk of insuring pre-existing conditions and retain policy holders with catastrophic illness? If I keep harking back to that, it is because, if the insurance companies are left to their own devices and there are no government programs (per your model) then what happens to those who need the help the most?
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Posted by Peter O'Brien on August 18, 2009 - 10:46pm The adaptation of the Fair Tax would give the parents of the children on medicade more money, if they choose wisely they can cover the costs but unfortunately for too many poor families, a new TV and shiny rims on the car are more important. Peter, with every respect, do you honestly believe that the small sum parents would get from a fair tax would pay the bills for a chronic illness? I know you have no respect for those who find themselves financially strapped because of a medical condition that is draining their resources. That is your perogative. How wisely does one choose, to pay for bills that can amount to thousands a month? A fair tax may be a good answer. I'm not debating that. Saying that whatever is saved by the fair tax would cover the enormous medical bills a family faces when there is a chronic illness is out of touch with reality.
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Bea, in a truly free market, maybe insuring "pre-existing conditions" isn't the risk that it is now, or maybe the financial incentives would be such that an insurance company would be stupid not to, or competition would make it otherwise beneficial to offer such insurance, or who knows -- I'm not saying I have the answer, just saying, neither do you. And I wouldn't be opposed to regulation or government programs to deal with pre-existing conditions, but that's arguing from extremes. Until we address the basic need to ensure that health care is affordable and accessible for the majority of Americans, then the extremes really don't matter.
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Not a fair tax Bea, THE Fair Tax After doing a bit of research. A single parent with 2 children aged 5 and 3 would have to pay approximately $1000 a month for health insurance in Batavia. Assuming the parent works for minimum wage 40 hours a week, under the fair tax that family would have almost $4000 more a year to spend. That would cover 4 months. Add in SCHIP and they should be just fine.
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Bea, I realize you have this "one issue" of young people being insured. It is a real problem, but a good percentage of those "young people" are covered by colleges and university's health care plans. Even graduate and doctorate students are able to buy into these plans for very little cost (if I was to stay on the plan at my university, it would cost me $400 a year). And, in the next 5-10 years the population of people between the ages of 18-25 is going to shrink a very large amount. If you focus on the whole population, a few reforms that do not include more government would solve the vast majority of the problems we have with health care. Take a minute, set your "young people" problem aside, and look at reform that way. We need to solve the problem as a whole before focusing on specific populations.
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Chelsea I can be called a looter and a moocher because I live in subsidized housing (along with former teachers, a minister, and others who contributed to the economy all their lives); and because I contributed to social security my entire adult life and to medicare since it's inception, and now receive the benefit afforded by those programs. It is difficult to ignore those comments. it is painful to know that we are looked down upon after being contributing members of society for almost half a century. I know what it is like to be uninsured. Not by choice but because of finances. It is an uncomfortable position to be in. I can't tolerate the smugness of being told had I planned better or that I was in that situation because I CHOSE it. There is not one brush that can be used to paint everyone who finds themselves in their own personal financial depression. Each situation is different as are the factors involved. Health care reform is a problem NOW. It isn't abstract. It isn't something to muse about and say, if they all accepted the libertarian point of view all the problems would be solved. It isn't going to happen in the near future. The fair tax solution isn't ging to happen this year, so let's look at real solutions rather than the abstract. What is going to happen, in the present, is insurance premiums rising as those who can afford private insurance continue to pay for those who are using emergency rooms as a primary care facility. Wouldn't it be better to offer affordable insurance so people could have the same advantage as tho more affluent? If insured, they can begin preventive medicine and not bog down the emergency rooms. I'm not disputing that colleges offer affordable insurance. Not everyone goes to college. Some, for whatever reason, need to purchase insurance as soon as they leave high school. Those are the people, if they have pre-existing conditions (sorry, Howard, it has to be mentioned) are refused, and they are the people who need it most. Today (not in the abstract) where are those people going to go for assistance? There are many people, on this board, who are far more intelligent and have the skills to debate this issue. I believe that there is a middle ground and most likely that middle ground will be reached this fall when Congress convenes.
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I also know what it is like to be uninsured. I know how scary it is to be afraid to become sick. There are many assumptions made on this board, but if point-for-point discussions were had, both on this board and in the government, this problem wouldn't exist now. There are real solutions provided here. Government-based health insurance is only ONE of them. This is not a black-and-white issue, there are many ways to solve the problem. Nit-picking one part of the whole will not solve the problem. However, I don't trust Congress to come up with a solution that will actually solve anything. My children and grandchildren will have to re-fix everything, simply because we're pushing for reform WAY TOO FAST. The last piece of legislation that I remember that was pushed this fast was the PATRIOT ACT. Which now has quite a few pieces that have been challenged and repealed. If the national government can't solve national security issues through legislation, how do we suppose they'll fix a problem they actually caused?
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Still not disputing my idea, just disregarding it completely... It could pass if people got behind it, instead you just accept the status quo and move on. There will never be a program or system that will take care of people equally Bea. Quit trying to create a government run Utopia, they don't and will never exist. Solutions need to solve problems for most of America, not every last person

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