I attended the question and answer session with U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on April 18. The event, which drew more than 700 attendees, was Hultgren’s reluctant response to demands from protesters outside his Campton Hills office in late February for a town hall meeting with their elected official.
The primary concern of the night was his approach to health care reform. The audience applauded loudly when Hultgren was asked if he would support a single-payer Medicare-for-all system. He responded, “I love Medicare. I want to make sure that we keep Medicare strong for the people who need it, especially our seniors.” Asked if he would oppose any bill that cuts Medicaid funding he said, “I want to make sure that Medicaid is protected. My voice will be loud on that.”
Last Thursday, Hultgren voted alongside 216 of his Republican colleagues to pass a health care bill that has been widely criticized by hospitals, doctors and insurers. He voted without an official Congressional Budget Office score, without any public hearings, and with only 16 hours for the public to read the full language of the bill. His voice on this matter was certainly a lot quieter than he claimed it would be.
The AARP opposed the bill on May 7, writing, “AARP opposes this legislation, as introduced, that would weaken Medicare, leaving the door open to a voucher program that shifts costs and risks to seniors.” The American Medical Association also opposed the bill, citing the “expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations.”
According to the CBO, the new law would cut Medicaid by $880 billion, or 25 percent, over 10 years and impose a “per-capita” limit on funding for certain groups of people, such as children and the elderly. More than 3 million Illinois residents — about 1 out of every 4 people in the state — have health insurance through Medicaid. Illinois spends the third-lowest of all states at $4,682 per enrollee and could fare far worse under the new legislation’s Medicaid limits than other states.
Hultgren violated his public promises to protect Medicare and Medicaid. His reckless vote on this rushed legislation shows he cares more about his party’s image than the health of his constituents. We deserve better.
— Josh Broadhurst, Batavia