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At the heart of national debate

Erickson residents in the spotlight for insight into health care issues

Created date

September 22nd, 2009

In a span of less than 24 hours, Riderwood and Greenspring took center stage in the contentious health care reform battle. [caption id="attachment_3023" align="alignright" width="280" caption="ABC World News Tonight paid a visit to Riderwood to hear what residents had to say about health care."]

Searching for answers

Despite numerous protesters lining the highway en route to Greenspring the day of the forum, the discussion with Congressman Connolly remained dignified, lacking the shouting and disruption that have become synonymous with recent forums. Accompanying Connolly to Greenspring were Barbara Kennelly, president/CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; Bill Kallio, AARP state director for Virginia; Sharon Lynn, assistant director of the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging; and Charles Delaplane, of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. As he began his discussion, Connolly addressed a common fear among older Americans, stating, I will not vote for any health care bill that does harm to Medicare in any way, shape, or form. I have an open mind [on legislation], and I have to listen to you. For the next two hours, he did just that, entertaining questions from the more than 100 Greenspring community members in attendance. Most questions touched on the desire to keep government out of health care and the fear of losing benefits, most notably Medicare, that older Americans already enjoy. I was impressed Congressman Connolly is very well informed and extremely good at handling questions, said Greenspring resident Kathleen Henry. For the most part, he actually answered them rather than talking around them. Addressing fears of losing Medicare, Connolly said, Medicare has been one of our most successful government programs, but it s not immune to the high inflation rate of health care. It is certainly a lifeline for seniors, and any health care reform bill will strengthen Medicare. At the end of the day, I don t think many minds were changed, said Henry. Those that want reform are still waiting to see what form it takes, and those that don t want any reform at all are still demanding the status quo.

Continuing communication

The day before the Greenspring discussion, Riderwood community members Bill Muldoon, Becky Griffin, Jim Kennedy, Herb Striner, and Joyce Turner were interviewed by reporter David Wright from ABC World News Tonight. We as a nation are still divided on the absolute necessity of an integrated, well-thought-out health care program, said Kennedy. Our nation needs to remain healthy if we are to maintain parity with the other nations of the world. I would like to know if the reforms will make prevention a priority, said Muldoon. The interview, on the heels of Riderwood s involvement in ABC s White House health care forum on June 24, provided a canvas for expressing the concerns of many older Americans to both the President and the viewing public. ABC News representatives said it best after their involvement with Erickson residents at all of the aforementioned discussions, says Daniel Dunne, Erickson s director of branded public relations. These are fascinating people who are well informed about important national issues. They are making an important contribution to this national debate.