Crowd packs Marin town hall to discuss healthcare

The battle over the new healthcare plan has been a divisive issue across the country. People around the Bay Area are making sure their voices are heard. Now, the battle moves to full scale political war where a lot is at stake.   

At high noon, a crowd of almost 2,000 gathered at the Marin Civic Center for a Town Hall Meeting with North Bay Congressman Jared Huffman.

Marin County is a well-to-do region of the Bay Area that leaders here say would still have a huge impact from the loss of the Affordable Healthcare Act, frequently labeled "Obamacare." Even before the Town Hall, the overwhelming majority opposed the Republican replacement plan for Obamacare.

"I guess I hope that it will convince some of the Republicans that this is an unworkable plan. However, I think that it's most important that we keep the best of the Affordable Care Act which has provided access for 40 million Americans," said Dr. Elyse Foster of Mill Valley. We found a lone dissenter, in the bluest of blue counties, who spoke out.

"I think, for the most part, everyone can benefit from a free market. And if a lot of us have the means, and we do have the means, we should be able to go out and make it a competitive market," said Anne Brenneis of San Rafael.

Inside, it was as much a hand wringing session and a pep rally as a primer on the Republican plan.

"I think we ought to be talking about fixing the Affordable Care Act, rather than repealing it," said Rep. Jared Huffman, (D) North Bay to much applause. Every aspect of the Republican plan was characterized as unfair.

"As more and more uninsured folks start returning to use the emergency room, for primary care and just showing up as hospitals when they're very, very sick, those costs have to be spread throughout the healthcare system. And, it means, even if you're on an employer plan, you're premiums are quite likely to go up," said Congressman Huffman.

States will lose billions of Federal dollars. "With those budget costs, it's gonna force the state to make some very difficult choices about cuts in eligibility and cuts in service," said Ken Jacobs, a UC Berkeley Medical Cost Analyst. "50,000 Marin residents, one out of five, is at serious risk of losing coverage. If people lose coverage, more people will become sick and more people will die earlier," said Grant Colfax, Marin County Health and Human Services Director.

Representative Huffman produced a young boy who, he says, whose life was saved from leukemia, as a toddler, by three-and-a-half years of intense treatment, thanks to Obamacare.

"My parents had to tell my sister that I might die of cancer," said 9-year-old Rhett Krawitt, who added, "Don't repeal the Affordable Care Act. Improve it. Why? Because my name is Rhett and I give a damn."

He got a standing ovation. In other parts of the state, he would not have been applauded much at all.

This is a fight unlike few controversies the country has ever seen and no less than control of Congress in 2018 hangs in the balance.