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Bartlett discusses health care, energy, Fort Hood

November 13, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., spoke Friday with a small group gathered at ABC-Barr Construction Institute on Locust Street in Hagerstown.

The event was billed as a chance for members to hear the congressman discuss health care reform.

"We have a very bad economy and a very difficult war, and we're passing health care," Bartlett said Friday.

The House bill passed Nov. 7 by a 220-215 vote. Bartlett voted against it.

"I don't think this will get through the Senate," he said.

Bartlett didn't read the health care bill, nor did anyone else in the 72 hours Congress had before the vote was taken, he said.

The bill was written in what Bartlett described as "legalese."

"The average layman can't read these bills. The average congressman can't read these bills," he said.

Those who support the bill "are those who believe the bigger government is, the better off you will be," Bartlett said. He assured the group gathered Friday that the bill's supporters are "not evil people, they just march to a different drummer."

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Bartlett believes some form of health care reform is necessary because health care costs are increasing at two to three times the rate of inflation, he said.

His own suggestions for reform include making health insurance policies something people own themselves, independent of their employer, in a health savings account model.

In a health savings account model, people would have money to spend as they wish, which would make them better, smarter consumers of health care, Bartlett said. He believes that model would encourage a focus on preventative care, he said.

Bartlett proposed a no-fault insurance model, which he compared to a workers' compensation model, in which people would be compensated by an awards board when medical mistakes occurred.

Bartlett also addressed energy issues Friday afternoon.

"Unless we do something about energy, there will never again be sustained good times," Bartlett said.

American's have been "pigging out" on oil, he said. He criticized his own party for what he described as its "drill now" mentality last year.

He said he is concerned that when the economy recovers, the cost of oil will again skyrocket and "squelch" any recovery.

Whatever the country does about alternative energy sources, it must be sustainable, Bartlett said. He cited corn ethanol as an example of an energy source that would not be sustainable in the long run.

In response to a question by Rob Heilig of Oakland, Md. -- who wondered if Republicans had a health care bill of their own -- Bartlett said the Republican bill was "clearly a much better bill in terms for how much it would cost and what it does for the American people."

After Bartlett spoke, Heilig said he thought the congressman was "very knowledgeable" about health care.




Armed forces need Muslims, Bartlett says



U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., took a few minutes during a health care speech Friday at ABC-Barr Construction Institute on Locust Street in Hagerstown to address the recent shooting at Fort Hood.

Bartlett sits on the House Armed Services Committee.

People have to understand the military's dilemma, Bartlett said.

While fighting two wars in the Middle East, "the military has been very desirous of recruiting Muslims," he said.

The military needs people who understand the culture and speak the language, he said.

"If we're going to fight these wars, we need to be able to communicate," he said.

He questions our presence in Afghanistan, which has been known as the graveyard of empires.

"The bad guys will simply go into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia," he said.

Bartlett talked about attending a recent funeral for someone killed overseas.

"What are you going to say?" Bartlett asked as he described looking at a young widow next to her husband's open coffin. "It's a totally selfless war on our part. We gain nothing."

The president faces a difficult decision in regards to committing new troops to Afghanistan.

Bartlett said he believes President Obama will decide the United States needs to take a new direction in Afghanistan, and that the country's future presence there will be as aiding and training Afghan fighters.

-- Erin Julius

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