A bipartisan town hall meeting on Monday featured none of the fireworks so common this summer, as Virginia Reps. Eric Cantor (left) and Bobby Scott shared a stage and many positions.
The best way to control the cost [of health insurance] is competition, Cantor said. We should be putting in place incentives [at the federal level] for states to have compacts with each other.
He said if individuals could buy insurance outside of the state, insurance companies would be forced to compete with each other.
Scott focused on the merits of the House Democratic proposals and compared the public insurance option to Medicare and Medicaid.
Government Medicare and Medicaid have polled higher than private insurance based on polls, Scott said.
Scott conceded the price tag associated with the House Democratic health care reform bills is high estimated at more than $1 trillion over 10 years but argued that the measure would be paid for unlike other priorities such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the forum, Cantor said he was confident health care reform will pass the House in some form this year although he said the threat of a public insurance option still looms large.
Several of Cantors Republican colleagues in the House and Senate have declared the public health insurance to be dead upon arrival over the past two weeks.
I think that something will emerge, Cantor told reporters after the meeting, which was held just outside his Congressional district. Its that important for this administration to show it can deliver on something. It hasnt delivered on anything other than the stimulus bill thus far.
Cantor also suggested the public option could be put in the bill as an invisible public option in the form of a trigger mechanism or as a public co-op.
Im not convinced that the public option is dead, Cantor said.
He added that he had heard Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expected to have a bill in the House as early as next month.
Im interested to see what kind of bill comes out there because of her insistence that it have a public option in it, he said. She wont get much Republican support if that is the case.
After the forum, several attendees who asked questions said they werent satisfied with the answers they received from either Congressman.
It doesnt have to be called a public option, but its got to be something [where lawmakers can] show me how it works, said Marlee Skinner, a registered nurse from Richmond who asked Cantor whether Republicans had an alternative to the public insurance option.
Skinner said she would continue to call Scott and Virginia Democratic Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner to get some answers.
Eileen Davis, also a registered nurse from Richmond and a progressive Democrat, said, Were not even debating health care. We are debating the managers of the health care coverage.