For many months, our nation has been embroiled in a heated debate on how best to reform our health care system.
A lot of you might be wondering where I stand in the ongoing discussion on health care. I am still undecided on how I will vote on this piece of legislation.
While I am waiting for the final bill to reach my desk, I am reviewing all material relevant to this debate to make the best and most-informed decision for Upstate New York. I am completing my reading of the Senate bill, requested to meet with White House personnel about my specific questions surrounding factual arguments, spoke with a leading opponent of health care reform Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, met with AARP representatives, and have poured over independent reports like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s presentation on the cost of inaction on health care reform.
Most importantly, I am gathering your input. Last week, I held a telephone town hall and spoke with over 3,700 constituents in our community. Your top concern voiced during an nonscientific poll on the conference call was, not surprisingly, job creation at 44%, with 25% stating that health care was their top concern. Telephones in all five of my offices have been ringing off the hook. Thousands of people from across the country have left voicemails, sent e-mails and written letters to voice their opinion. It is safe to say that I have heard from all sides of the debate, and most have expressed their concerns in a civil manner. It is no surprise that people on both sides of this issue are passionate. However, there is a line between civil discourse and the physical and verbal threats that I have received at my offices back home.
There are a lot of good people who support health care reform, and a lot of good people who oppose the plan. Unfortunately, there have been people from outside our community that have been verbally abusive to my staff, and made thinly-veiled threats of violence. Meanwhile, local and national Tea Party groups are more concerned with distorting my record and "declaring war" on me instead of providing real solutions to our nations problems. Now is the time for thoughtful conversation, not aggression, lies, or nonsensical rhetoric.
As I am presented with the health care bill, I will read it, study it, and make a decision that serves best the people of Upstate New York. Until then, I appreciate your support and patience as we work to do what is best for our community and our nation.