Cardin peppered on health plan Citizens ask much, except high tab

November 09, 1993|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer

At the last of three town meetings on health care reform, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd, heard again last night what he heard at the other sessions -- people want universal coverage, lower costs and less government involvement.

"I think I'm getting stiffed," Columbia resident Adele Lurie, a self-employed Realtor, told Mr. Cardin.

"I voted for Clinton. I voted for you. I voted for changes in health care."

But she said she fears that President Bill Clinton's health care plan could cost her family as much as $1,800 to $2,000 a year more than it is paying now.

Ms. Lurie was among some 160 people who attended the town meeting at Howard County General Hospital.

The other meetings were held last week in Southeast Baltimore and in Pikesville in Baltimore County.

Last night, the few cheers and applause came only after someone called for more government controls on spending.

At times, the discussion nearly broke down into a verbal free-for-all.

"What about long-term care?" asked Shelly Cermak, a representative of the Maryland chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"There are a lot of young people out there who are physically disabled, who are not working, and they are not covered."

"What about the effect on inflation?" one person asked.

"What about the increase in the requests for services?" another asked.

"They have a lot of questions," Mr. Cardin said of people who attended the town meetings.

"They don't want a lot of government involvement. They want universal coverage. They want cost containment."

With charts and graphs, Mr. Cardin showed the group the federal government's projections for health care costs by 2000, if changes aren't made.

One projection put the average family's health care costs at about $14,000 a year by then.

"There's no perfect solution," Mr. Cardin told those who attended the meeting.

"Some of these details are causing a lot of heart burn."

"There are a lot of complications in all these proposals," he said. "Whatever we do, there's some risk."

Although Mr. Cardin said he was not simply promoting the Clinton plan, he said it contains some "achievable goals" that would improve health care.

The Clinton plan "would significantly bring down the cost of health care and create jobs," he told the audience.

After the meeting, some people, including Ms. Cermak, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said they still had many questions about the Clinton plan.

"He was a little evasive," Ms. Cermak said of Mr. Cardin.

"It's the same thing government always does," Jim Oglethorpe, a Columbia accountant, said of Mr. Cardin's answers, which he termed ambiguous.

Mr. Oglethorpe said that he wants the government to conduct more studies of the Clinton proposal before any part of it is implemented.

"They need to go slow," Mr. Oglethorpe said.

"It needs to be tested."

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