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Locals engage in a healthy debate 

Unless you’ve had your head under a rock recently, it’s hard to miss the debate going on in this country over health-care reform.

Depending on where you stand, H.R. 3200—America’s Affordable Health Choices Act—is either the first step on the road to the horrors of socialism or the wonder-drug cure-all for a broken system.

That debate came home to the Central Coast over the last few weeks.

In SLO County, Congressman Kevin McCarthy held his gathering at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds. Congresswoman Lois Capps’ office announced that she’ll be hosting her own town hall meeting on Sept. 3. In an e-mail to the press, she noted that she’s “strongly supportive of the reform legislation” recently approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Matt Kokkonen, a financial planner and challenger to Capps’ Congressional seat 
in the 2008 election, also recently hosted 
a town hall meeting of his own. He weighed in on the health-care reform 
issue in an interview with New Times: 
“We can cover the uninsured with these risk pools,” he said, referring to 
California’s Major Risk Medical Program, “but they’re not adequately funded, and there is a long wait.”

Kokkonen added that one solution would be to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines.

“Twenty years ago we could get insurance proposals [in California] from who knows how many different companies,” he said. “Today, there are only four or five.”

Participants were definitely free with their thoughts and emotions at his event, as opinions on both sides of the debate were met with boos or cheers. Signs proclaimed “You keep your change, I’ll keep my $$$” and “Healthcare Corporations have NO interest in our health.”

“The system that exists now is broken,” said Jim Mallin of San Luis Obispo. “If you don’t think we have rationing of health care now, you need to wake up.”

Morro Bay resident Dick Snyder implored politicians to “slow down.”

“Stop spending our money!” he said. “What’s the rush?”

Kokkonen, himself an immigrant from Finland, noted in a later interview that he believed U.S. health care is the best in the world.

“I don’t want that to go to a socialized system,” he said. “A socialized system will have rationing of care, and there would be no way for private industry to compete with a government option.”

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