McDonnell grilled on health care
Republican Robert F. McDonnell today held a brief town hall meeting at the Manassas offices of Micron Technology Inc., which employs about 1,600 people in Virginia. The Idaho-based semiconductor microchip manufacturer's political action committee has contributed at least $10,000 to McDonnell over the years and its CEO, Steve Appleton, delivered a warm introduction before McDonnell's remarks.
That's not to say McDonnell was handed softball questions. More than 100 employees gathered in a large conference room to hear McDonnell speak, among them Charles McClure, an electrician who delivered the hardball of the day: How, he asked, will you ensure that Virginians receive the same quality of health insurance you do as a public employee?
McDonnell was typically on message, though clearly less comfortable on this issue than the topics he has been talking about regularly on the trail, such as job creation and energy independence.
"Anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of Virginians don't have a bona fide insurance policy, and there are a lot of reasons for it. Some are illegal immigrants, some don't have insurance by choice, some have legitimate preexisting conditions and don't qualify," he said. "My opinion is that overall, people are generally satisfied with the doctor-patient relationship under our current system."
Noting that he believes the private sector, rather than the government, is best equipped to properly manage the system, he suggested that changes in federal and state law might allow small businesses that currently can't afford coverage for their employees to do so, and proposed expanding the practice of private health care spending accounts. He endorsed tort reform, rejected the idea of a health care mandate, and said there should be greater awareness of the state's system of free clinics.
McClure, a Democrat and supporter of McDonnell's opponent, R. Creigh Deeds, was not impressed.
"I think he danced around the question," he said after the forum. "My question was, is he going to actively pursue improving the quality of health care for the people of Virginia? He didn't say one way or the other."
October 23, 2009; 11:55 AM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar
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