“My Congressman is a rocket scientist” bumper stickers can be found on automobiles all throughout New Jersey’s 12th Congressional district. This, of course, refers to one of only two current research physicists in the House of Representatives.
Congressman Rush Holt spoke to the College about the future of health care in his presentation, “After the Election, where do we go from here?”, in the Education Building on Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. This event was sponsored by the Public Health Communications Club.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Holt while speaking about the Affordable Health Care Act. “I think that relatively soon, people will come to realize that this is one of the great changes.”
Congressman Holt has been in office since he was first elected in 1998 and was just re-elected on Tuesday, Nov. 6 as a member of the Democratic Party.
Holt acknowledged the commonly heard rumors that people believed Congress was passing the bill without even reading it.
“The problem with making public policy is trying to understand what this year’s message is (from the people),” said Holt in response to critics of the bill.
According to Holt, President Obama has not received much credit for his leadership in getting the country to make this bold move towards better health care. However, Holt did acknowledge that the President’s leadership faltered with the specifics of the bill, which is where the disfavor from the public derives from.
Holt commented that the process of passing the bill in Congress “is like sausage being made … You don’t want to watch it.”
Holt portrayed the Affordable Health Care Act as a piece of legislature that will give families the ability to cover expensive medical conditions for their children without being denied. It will also require insurance companies to spend 85 cents out of every $1 to actually go towards health care, where in the past only about 65-75 cents went toward health care.
“There will surely be some changes, but overall I think it will work,” said Holt explaining that provisions of the bill that also place more of an emphasis on preventative medicine and prohibits the discrimination of women.
“As far as I can tell, health care reform is working, contrary to what you heard during the campaign,” Holt said. He explained that just as Medicare in 1965 helped seniors, “the Affordable Health Care Act will change America.”
The Congressman stressed the idea that the people of America are not well informed about the provisions of the bill and don’t understand that these provisions will actually help them. “People in America are not very good at thinking statistically,” Holt said.
“I’ve laid this out as a pretty attractive piece of legislature,” said Holt, “but you wouldn’t know it,” as a result of the public opposition due to misinformation. The Congressman also blatantly opposed the theory that Obamacare is socialized medicine.
The Congressman said that the President seized on the need for better health care early on which was a very important step in leading this country. But Holt added that problems arose from the President not seeing the bill through completely and letting it go back and forth in Congress.
Holt referred to the process of passing the bill as a “communications disaster” between the government and the people who are not fully educated about the benefits of the bill. But Holt assured that “if you are in America, you can count on having good health care,” and promised that as the provisions take effect, the American public will be in favor of the bill.
Holt then went into a question and response session in which a question was asked to the congressman regarding Karl Rove’s visit to the College and his claims that employers will drop insurance plans because health care will be covered by the Federal Government.
Holt responded by saying that Rove has underestimated Congress. Holt explained that he doesn’t believe that employers will drop insurance plans because there is sufficient motivation not to such as human morals, taxes and fines.
“We’ll see how it goes,” said Holt. “I don’t think we will see another attempt to repeal Obamacare.”
Another question was asked about what Obama can do to unite the U.S. people as one, despite the clear divide shown by the popular vote in last Tuesday’s election that was almost 50/50.
Regarding the electoral votes, “It was an unmistakable win by the President,” Holt said. He acknowledged the polarization of the country by sects, income, race, ethnicity and region, etc.
“There are many real division and fault lines in this country,” said the congressman. Holt joked that the best way to deal with this divide is to find a common enemy such as alien invaders from outer space.
However Holt said the more likely solution is to “gain a sense of national purpose” by creating things, adding value in production and “making commitments in a bold way that recognizes that we have an economical crisis that needs to be dealt with.”
In solving this problem Holt proposed that “now is the time for really bold federal and national expenditures.” He used the example of the G.I. Bill and how the country was in debt but still spent money on the G.I. Bill which was extremely successful and uplifting.
“We could find that unifying purpose if we go about it the right way,” Holt said. “This country needs inspirational talking and this President is capable of doing that.”
Kevin Bazer, freshman liberal arts math major, was pleased with the event. “It was great to see someone as notable as Rush Holt come to the College,” Bazer said. “It gave me a chance to learn more about issues concerning my state and Holt’s stance on them.”