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Nurses Ask Rep. Benishek to Tell Seniors His Price for a Public Medicare Town Hall

Michigan Nurses Assoc. Press Release Press Release, 9/4/12

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Congressman busy with $1,000-per-person Grand Rapids fundraiser, campaign tour

Registered nurses who live and work in Congressman Dan Benishek’s district today asked him to name his price to hold a public town hall so the patients they take care of every day know how much they have to pay to express concerns and publicly ask questions about his plan to end Medicare and make them pay thousands of dollars more for health care each year. Just a week after spending days in Florida generating support for re-election from fellow Republicans, Benishek will head to Grand Rapids on Wednesday for a $1,000-a-person fundraiser with special guest U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.*

“Representative Benishek’s fancy fundraiser is just like health care under the Ryan-Benishek Medicare plan – great for rich people, and out of reach for the rest of us,” said Barbara Davis, a registered nurse and a member of the Michigan Nurses Association who lives in Dickinson County. “There is something seriously wrong when anyone who can write a $1,000 check has access to our Congressman but he won’t hold a public town hall for his constituents who are deathly afraid of losing their Medicare. Nurses have to wonder, is it at the point where our patients have to pay to get a public town hall meeting to talk about life-and-death issues with our Congressman?”

The nurses said Benishek, a surgeon, should either hold a genuine town hall or stop insulting the public’s intelligence. They pointed out that:

  • Benishek’s “100 in 100“ and “House Calls with Dr. Dan” tours throughout the district are not constituent outreach, but instead are campaign events. Otherwise, they could be legally promoted through Congressman Benishek’s official government website. Instead, they are listed only on his campaign website.
  • Benishek’s staff states he held “three town hall meetings with seniors”; one of those was a meeting with no apparent advance notice to the general public. The other two “town halls” were conducted by telephone. These typically involve “robo-calling” constituents selected by the legislator; if those people happen to answer the phone, they can listen to the legislator; they may or may not be allowed to comment or ask questions.

“Nurses hear every day from patients about how they simply cannot pay more for health care, and certainly not $6,400 more a year that Dr. Benishek’s Medicare plan would require,” said John Karebian, Michigan Nurses Association Executive Director. “Congressman Benishek should host an open forum about the future of Medicare with his constituents. Rich people shouldn’t be the only ones with access to health care, and they shouldn’t be the only ones with access to their Congressman.”            
 
BACKGROUND
Benishek voted to: “essentially end Medicare,”1 instead creating a system that gives seniors insufficient vouchers to hand over to private insurance companies 2; raise seniors’ health care costs by $6,400 a year while giving millionaires an additional $150,000 a year in tax breaks3; and protect his own enhanced health care benefits.4
 
The Michigan Nurses Association has an online petition urging “Dr. Dan” to keep his promise to constituents and protect Medicare, not millionaires. The petition, video and more information are available at www.doctordansdeadlyplan.com.

1 Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11

2 Long-Term Analysis of a Budget Proposal by Chairman Ryan,” Congressional Budget Office, 4/5/11

3Ibid; “Report of the Committee on the Budget, House of Representatives,” p. 205, 3/23/12

4HR 6079, Vote #459, 7/11/12

*The event was confirmed in an email sent by organizer Sandra Baxter, who included a copy of the invitation. A PDF of the invitation is available at http://www.minurses.org/files/files/BenishekInvite090512.pdf.

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