Loebsack backs Public Option, Reimbursement Reform at Labor Picnic
Nick Johnson gave me a hard time for using a pen and paper to take notes at the Iowa City Federation of Labor picnic, but after trying to liveblog from the Blackberry at Dave Loebsack's health care forum my thumbs were typed out.
Loebsack was the big speaker at this afternoon's picnic and while he pledged to fight hard for the public option, he said Medicare reimbursement reform was a critical part of health care reform for Iowa.
"Right now the public option reimbursement rate is based on Medicare," said Loebsack, "and those rates need to get fixed so that Iowa does not get hurt in the process."
Iowa is among the states with the lowest reimbursement rates.
That said, "we've got to have a strong, robust public option," said Loebsack. However, "not all the Democrats even want a public option, and I'm not sure any Republicans do. But I'll do everything I can to keep it in there."
There is bipartisan agreement on ending pre-existing conditions, said Loebsack. "Never again should an insurance company have the ability to throw you off your plan because you have an illness they don't want to cover."
Loebsack said over 2700 2nd District residents had attended 14 town halls, with two yet to go (one in each county seat, which means two in split-courthouse Lee County).
"We made them as fair as we possibly could," Loebsack said of his random question system. "Iowans are respectful and we want a good dialog. We've proven that at caucus time and for the most part we've done that here."
But the forums were "a little less than civil at times. Jim Leach and I ran a respectful and civil campaign, and I pledge to keep doing that. But it's been challenging at times."
"The public option is absolutely important," said City Fed president Pat Hughes while introducing Loebsack. "Without it the insurance companies keep making their 1000 percent profits. They're not gonna reform on their own. We've been talking about national health care since Teddy Roosevelt was president."
"I'd like to thank Pat Hughes for giving my speech for me," said the congressman.
Loebsack pledged continuing support and co-sponsorship of the Employee Free Choice Act and bragged up his membership in the American Federation of Teachers, dating back to his pre-congressional days. (Several local political figures who aren't bargaining unit members hold AFT cards.) "The pendulum of power needs to swing back toward the employees and workers."
About 100 people were on hand for Loebsack's speech, "a heck of a turnout for an odd-numbered year" according to Loebsack. We have no photos to share with you; a north-facing congressman is a backlit congressman and the couple shots I tried were silhouettes. Y'all know what Dave looks like anyway.
The only other candidate to speak was school board contender Sarah Swisher. She was the only school candidate on the scene but city council candidates Terry Dickens, Dan Tallon and Jeff Shipley were on hand along with supervisor candidate Janelle Rettig. (A few Tom Fiegen for US Senate T-shirts were also spotted.)
And the roll call of the electeds: Michael Wright and Mayor Regenia Bailey from the city council, Mitch Gross of Coralville, Patti Fields of the school board, Mary Mascher and Bob Dvorsky from the legislature. (Larry Marek was not sighted; Hughes took a shot from the podium at "the fellow from the south who kind of back stabbed us at the last moment" on labor bills that lost by one vote last session.)
Representing for the county were supervisors Sullivan and Neuzil, auditor Slockett, attorney Lyness, and Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek who got treated (?) to a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday.