Rep. Bilirakis town hall was beneficial for both sides.

Congressman Bilirakis found some common ground with his town hall audience.

Last night in Land O’ Lakes Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis of Pasco County met a loud town hall crowd of about 100 people. The main topic was Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and unlike many other GOP who failed to do town hall meetings, Bilirakis did his best to answer any and all the questions asked of him.

After over an hour of good back and forth conversation Bilirakis and his constituents were much closer to understanding each other.

The Congressman took a page out of President Donald Trump’s playbook. He seemed to soften his position of the future of the Affordable Care Act.

His town hall audience focused on the future of healthcare in America and specifically in Pasco County. To his credit Bilirakis, listened and gave some some answers that may not have been heard or understood prior to last night.

There was plenty of passionate members of the audience each with stories of how losing their Affordable Care Act insurance could cost them their or a family member’s life. It was a very passionate crowd and Bilirakis listened to every question.

The Congressman, is no rookie on hearing from a tough crowd. He has been serving in Washington representing Florida’s 12th congressional district, since January 2007. He has voted a number of times to repeal Obamacare, and remains a strong conservative, but he showed a willingness to listen.

Bilirakis pledged any new Republican bill wouldn’t eliminate coverage for those with preexisting conditions, throw those under 26 off parents’ plans, or repeal the ban on lifetime caps for new plans.

Later in the meeting Congressman Bilirakis was asked if he could promise only to support plans that would allow his constituents to keep their insurance.

Bilirakis said, “Well, that’s what the goal is, that’s the goal.”

But he argued the mandate should be repealed in favor of health savings plans.

Congressman Bilirakis district voted for Trump over Clinton by 14 points. So, the congressman is in line with what the new president has promised on a number of occasions.

The high stakes politics of Obamacare was illustrated by Bilirakis’ answer to a concerned constituent Wednesday night.

“If it is good enough for us, why isn’t it good enough for you?” Bilirakis was asked by the crowd.

He responded, “I am on Obamacare myself. The staff is also on Obamacare.”

He said house leaders would float a bill next week, which President Trump has promised would jibe with his promise to repeal Obamacare.

Leadership has not said how many their plan would cover. While some in GOP have not had town halls, this is Bilirakis’ third.

The Congressman posted the following statement on his website last night.

“I held a series of public listening sessions on health care because it is my duty as a representative to hear firsthand from my constituents, whether we agree or disagree on the issues. I will continue to seek common ground and constructive exchanges of ideas with the people of my district. That’s what democracy is all about,” said Bilirakis.

“But the Affordable Care Act in its current state is unsustainable and it’s only going to get worse—costs are going up, while choices and flexibility are dwindling. We need a health care system that is truly patient-focused, and I will use the input from my recent meetings to shape my work on the replacement legislation.”

Some quotes used in this story came from a Fox 13 news report. They are one of our LIVESTREAM partners. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.