STOW, NY – Chautauqua County’s representative in Congress was in the area this past weekend to hold four Town Hall meetings, which featured a large number of constituents voicing their concerns about policy he favors in Washington.
The Town Halls for congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) began Saturday morning in Stow and continued eastward to Cherry Creek, Great Valley, and finally Filmore, over in Allegany County.
During each Town Hall, Reed was greeted with attendees who shared their concerns regarding a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, something he’s been in support of since President Obama first signed the healthcare measure into law seven years ago. Now that Republicans control both houses of Congress and also the White House, it’s inevitable the measure will be repealed in the coming months.
A FOCUS ON THE REPEAL OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
The North Harmony event included between 200 and 300 people, so many in fact that it was forced to be moved outside of the North Harmony Senior Citizens Center. At several points during the meeting, Reed had to contend with attendees chanting, shouting, and interrupting the discussion – especially when it came to ACA.
“I believe that’s where we can potentially end up and I would support that type of reform,” Reed said as some members of the crowd chanted “We Want Your Healthcare!”
“What we have access to it as members of congress, and you should also. My plan is essentially the equivalent of what postal workers get. That’s the one that works for me and that’s the one that’s been selected, because we are under the Obamacare policies,” Reed explained over the chanting audience members.
Reed also told the audience that he wants to see some provisions of ACA remain under any new policy that is brought forward, including covering patients with per-existing conditions and including children up to the age of 26. However, many who showed up on Saturday felt that Reed wants to do away with the most crucial component of the law, which is to ensure all Americans have access to healthcare that won’t lead to having to choose between long-term debt or not seeking needed treatment.
PRESIDENT TRUMP AND POSSIBLE TIES TO RUSSIA
Another issue that took center stage was Reed’s support of President Donald Trump.
In Cherry Creek at the Pine Valley VFW, audience members demanded that he support a review of the president’s tax returns to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between Trump’s business interests and his position as top executive of the nation.
At one point, an audience member suggested it was outrageous Reed say there doesn’t appear to be any ties to Russia while at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
“You do know that that process is not a public process?” Reed asked the audience, referring to the ability of the House Ways and Means Committee to review the president’s tax returns.
“It could be,” one member responded as other began to applaud her comments. “If it is a special council outside of the political arena. We need to get this Russian thing outside of the political arena. This is America. We are at the VFW and these people fought for our freedoms!”
Reed, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, was one of several Republican Committee members who last week voted against a proposal by a Democratic member for the committee to review the President’s tax returns in private in order to see if there are any conflicts of interest.
Despite the large outpouring of attendees angry with Reed, the congressman remained patient throughout both events in Chautauqua County. Following the event in Cherry Creek, he told WRFA that he felt some common ground had been reached.
“There is more common ground, once you start cutting through the rhetoric, there is some common ground I know, I’m very confident we can find. And you saw that demonstrated when discussing getting healthcare costs under control, using some example like what’s going on at the VA, like pharmaceutical sales and bringing competitive pressure. Those are some of things that we can build upon as a nation and those are what we’re going to focus on,” Reed said.
But no everyone agreed with Reed’s Sentiment. Bemus Point resident Kristina Benson, who attended the North Harmony event, said the congressman wasn’t direct in responding to concerns that were brought forward.
“It’s clear that he didn’t answer the questions that were posed to him. He didn’t answer them clearly” Benson said. “He talked about the [Trump] tax returns and asking to see the returns was somehow government overreach. And not more than two minutes later he was talking about controlling a woman’s body as not being some type of government overreach.”
The issue of Town Hall meetings has taken center stage across the country in recent days, with many Republican members of congress in other states holding meetings and being met with angry crowds that had forced the events to be cut short. Some members of congress, including fellow Western New York Republican Chris Collins, have said they don’t plan to ever hold town hall meetings. Congressman Reed said he values the town halls and will continue to hold them as long as he is in office.