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Grassley Town Hall Meeting

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Republican Senator Talks Healthcare Reform in Glenwood

By Joe Foreman, Editor

Healthcare reform isn’t a dead issue in Congress, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley said in an interview with The Opinion-Tribune, but fresh legislation will have to be drafted if any measure is to get serious consideration and make its way to President Obama’s desk in 2010.

“I think in order to jumpstart it (healthcare reform), it’s going to have to start over and start from a blank sheet of paper,” Iowa’s Republican senator said last Tuesday following a 60-minute town hall meeting in Glenwood. “Every senator would say he’s for seeing some changes made. Some of them, as I indicated in here, are consensus – not even Republican or Democrat. For instance, moving from physician reimbursement based on quantity (of patient visits) to quality (of care) or the deal of not having the pre-existing condition as an excuse for not giving insurance. Things of that nature.”

Republicans, Grassley said, have another issue they want addressed in the healthcare debate.

“There has to be consideration from the majority party of the necessity of medical malpractice reform,” he said.

Grassley said he’ll have a better feel for the status of healthcare reform after taking part in a bipartisan summit on the matter this Thursday. The White House has invited congressional leaders from both parties to participate in the televised summit. Grassley, ranking member of the Finance Committee, was one of nine senators invited. Iowa’s Democratic Senator, Tom Harkin, also received an invitation. Harkin chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Iowa will be the only state having both of its senators participating in the summit.

Grassley had an overflow crowd of nearly 100 people in attendance for his town hall meeting in the basement meeting room at Glenwood State Bank. In addition to healthcare reform, Grassley answered questions and listened to comments on veterans’ benefits, banking and corporate bailouts by the federal government, unemployment and the perceived lack of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

In reference to a complaint from an audience member that no tax credits or federal bailout was provided for the “small guy” living in Iowa, Grassley pointed to the federal home buyer’s tax credit, which has been extended to April 1.

On the unemployment issue, Grassley said, “The last factor to improve out of recession is employment, but nobody in Washington understands that.”

Grassley indicated he isn’t surprised by the growing displeasure with the federal government and national politics, noting that his own party should have taken a message from the 2006 and 2008 elections that the American public doesn’t like the way business is being conducted in Washington.