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Cameron University holds healthcare debate

Published: Sep. 14, 2012 at 7:46 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2012 at 2:55 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla_The heated debate over President Obama's health care reform law took center stage at Cameron University Friday. Both sides Democrats and Republicans, sounded off on the Affordable Care Act, answered questions and tried to inform Lawtonians on what has become a central issue of the 2012 presidential campaign. It was an open forum with a panel of experts and conversation was intense and emotional.

When it comes to the new health care law, Matt Pinnell, the Chairman of the State Republican Party, and Constance Johnson, a Democrat State Senator from Oklahoma City, could not see things more differently. Johnson stressed how personal the issue of health and illness is, and is very much in favor of the perks of the program, whereas Pinnell finds it to be financially detrimental.

The purpose of the open forum was for residents to ask these questions: What does the Affordable Healthcare Act mean to our country? What does it mean to Oklahomans? Is it even working? Republican Chair Matt Pinnell said no.

"There's a lot of concerns out there. We talk about access, shortage of physicians because of this legislation. How is this really going to affect me and my business? There's a lot of concern and rightfully so."

But Senator Constance Johnson said all you have to do is look at Oklahoma's health rankings to know change is needed.

"When we know that our state has dropped in ranking from 46 to 48, and we also know that the rate of chronic disease that are behavior based is off the charts, with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, just being rampant in our state, then we have to consider the provisions of the affordable care act that would make a better world for Oklahomans."

One audience member in particular made his voice heard he strongly support's the act and feels his wife may still be alive had it been enacted at the time she fell chronically ill. He said she was pulled from his insurance just as his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

"You have a lot of these stories across the country and those are things that certainly, we want to make sure, both the democratic and the republican party, that there is access to care, but putting our country into debt doing it, is not the solution," Pinnell said.

"For me, it's really about helping people understand that this campaign, this election that's coming up, it's personal. And personal health care is a key focus of the Obama administration," Johnson said.

Pinnell is clearly against the program, and feels President Obama has fallen short of his promises.

"Wages are down and health care premiums are up. And that is something that Obama obviously said was not going to happen. So, we'll judge him based upon his own words."

Johnson said things like pre-existing illnesses, families with children in college who will be able to stay on their parents' insurance with this new law or a low-income senior citizen are all examples of why the program is crucial.

"We have to keep this law, but if we were to not re-elect the President, all of those things will go away, and the pain can only get worse."

Both Pinnell and Johnson know this is a hot button issue and they both feel it's going to bring a lot more people to vote in November. Their goal is to inform as many folks as they can before they start heading to the polls.