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Long-serving congressman discusses options for health care reform at Alumni House

Rep. John Conyers spoke Tuesday night at an event hosted by the College Democrats. Raffaella Giampaolo/Hatchet Photographer
Rep. John Conyers spoke Tuesday night at an event hosted by the College Democrats. Raffaella Giampaolo/Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Nicolas Diaz.

Long-serving Congressman John Conyers discussed the sharp partisan battle over health care and the unstable economic climate at Alumni House Monday in an event hosted by the College Democrats.

Conyers chairs the House Judiciary Committee and has been representing Michigan in the House since 1965. Many of the questions from the student audience asked what the Congressman, along with the rest of the Democratic Party, was doing to improve the health care crisis.

Conyers said Democrats are morally and politically dedicated to working on the issue, but wants the public to understand that there are more people working against a public option than there are in favor of one.

“For every member of Congress supporting health care reform, there are six lobbyists against him,” he said.

Conyers, who represents Detroit and other areas of Michigan that have been hit hard by the slumping economy, said, “We are not in a recession, but a depression.”

Conyers reminded the audience that while the stock market may be improving, there is a 28 percent unemployment rate in his hometown of Detroit, and 147 evictions take place each day in Michigan’s Wayne County.

Conyers said he sees links between the hard times of everyday Americans and the health care crisis.

Unpaid medical bills “are currently the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.,” Conyers said.

“It’s a right to health care, not a right to health insurance,” he continued, arguing that Americans should be taken care of by a decent and reliable health care system instead of focusing on taking care of health insurers in lowering their costs.

The irresponsibility of insurance companies requires a “robust public option,” Conyers said.  Conyers said creating competition between health care providers is necessary.

“Competition is something this industry has not been doing,” Conyers said.

To pass the reform needed, Conyers said Democrats need to band together to focus on their common goals.

“Americans urgently need better health coverage given that 60 million people are currently without any type of healthcare, thus causing 44,000 people in medical need to die just last year due to lack of such,” he said.

Conyers also touched on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Sending 40,000 more troops won’t satisfy anything for the nation. Instead, things are bound to worsen,” he said. “A troop surge is not the way to fix our situation in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

Conyers also argued that the 2000 and 2004 elections involved unfair acts in Florida and Ohio, respectively, and said he had concern for fair elections in the future.

Voting rights and regulation are vital, he said, because “the last two elections before Obama’s were so unfair that it hindered the Democratic Party.”

Freshman Jay Dhar was one of around 50 students who attended Conyers’ discussion.

“Congressman Conyers has really good points on how to reform health care through the single-payer or strong public option in order for the reform not be too much of a giveaway to insurance corporations,” Dhar said.

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