North Florida Congressman Neil Dunn hosted a nearly four hour town hall meeting in Panama City this weekend. Dominating the conversation: Dunn’s view on Congress’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The conversation between Dunn and his constituents was at times emotional. Tasha Schmidt has numerous chronic conditions. She says says she’s been denied disability five times, and without her health insurance, she believes she’ll likely die.
“Can you promise me that I won’t lose my care that I won’t be of the 17 million people who lose their insurance next year. Because that could end my life," she told Dunn during the meeting.
Dunn is supporting a House leadership plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also called ObamaCare. But a recent estimate on the impact of that measure by the Congressional Budget Office says if the proposal, as written, were to pass more than 20 million people would lose their health insurance, yet the federal government would save more than $330 billion over the next decade. Dunn, a Panama City urologist, says he wants to make sure people don’t lose the coverage they want to keep. And that comes through what he says is finding the sweet spot.
“What we do is make the pricing transparent, make the quality transparent and let them make a value based choice on where the sweet spot is," he said after the meeting.
More than 250 people attended Dunn’s town hall meeting in Panama City—a far different experience from his impromptu meeting a month ago with a group of Tallahassee residents which ended when Dunn refused to speak to a larger group assembled outside city hall. Panama City is the Congressman’s base, and Dunn says he enjoyed the conversation even as it at times grew contentious.
“This is a nice town. People are nice down here.”
Dunn also faced questions over whether he supports President Donald Trump’s budget proposal cutting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other arts programs. Most local public radio and TV stations, including this one, receive CPB funding. Dunn was noncommittal on that point.
Yet Dunn did say he believed he made progress in the meeting, and that he had more questions for Congress as it continues to debate whether and how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
**WKGC Reporter Trinity Hardy Contributed to this report.