VOTER VOICES: Health care a hot topic at outdoor concert


August 16th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Health care, and how to pay for it. That was one recurring issue among Omahans at a recent outdoor concert. NET News talked with voters part of the “Campaign Connection 2012: Voter Voices” project.

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The big band sounds of Mike Gurciullo and his Las Vegas Lab Band echo off the buildings of Omaha’s Midtown Crossing development on a sultry Thursday evening. On the grass of adjacent Turner Park is an audience of thousands for this weekly Jazz on the Green concert. They’re spread out with folding chairs and blankets, wine and lemonade, and snacks and pot luck dinners. Folks here had more on their minds than music and food, as we found out when we set up a special opportunity for people to record videos on election issues for the NET News “Voter Voices” project. Many of their comments focused on health care.

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“I have health insurance because I just got it. Luckily my company offers it to even their part-time employees,” said Mathew King, an event specialist for an Omaha marketing company. “But I hadn’t always had it. And my main concern is why are the people with the most money the least concerned about the people without the money in regards to insurance? Because we’re all paying for it one way or another through our taxes if they have to go to the emergency room and have no health care.”

King wants to know where candidates for Federal offices stand on the Affordable Care Act, informally referred to as Obamacare.

“I don’t see (anything) wrong with it,” King added. “Even if it’s just a partial fix it’s better than nothing at all.”

VOTER VOICES: Beverly Rosenbaum on health care

“To be honest with you I don’t believe in this administration and anything they’re doing,” said Ralph Fisher, a military veteran who used to work in construction in Omaha. Now he’s retired and lives in Texas. Fisher is concerned the Affordable Care Act will cause his insurance rates to go up, his coverage to drop, and will reduce his access to services at VA hospitals.

“Can I get a screen test for cancer? Right now from what I understand, no I can’t because I’m going to be too old,” Fisher said. “After serving my country and living here all these years, I don’t think it’s the right for anybody to tell me I can’t get these things that somebody said that I was going to get.”

“My question to the candidates would be, are we really looking at where the expenses are coming from in health care?'” said Beverly Rosenbaum of Fremont. She ran a family business for 25 years. Now she works at a furniture store in Omaha.

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“Are we looking at the drug companies? Are we looking at the cost of the administration?” Rosenbaum added. “That to me is a real simple question. Why are the costs so high for our health care? It concerns me because of out-of-pocket expenses that I have to pay for tests, and I’m a very healthy person.”

The Jazz on the Green concert offered a break from campaigns that some we talked to would like to see use a different tone and different messages.

“It seems that everybody talks about issues, and I’m for this, I’m against this,’ said Dave Wingert, a longtime Omaha radio personality. “Why isn’t there more attention placed on people who look to solve problems by sitting down and discussing?”

“During campaigns, it seems like politicians can get away with whatever they want, they can say whatever they want,” added Richard Callahan, a banker in Omaha. “What we need to have is politicians who actually follow-up on what they actually say and promise during the campaigns. So I’d like to see all candidates from all areas keep their promises, or at least get back to people, let them know.”

Now the music of summer is fading, and the sounds of an election year growing. Our “Voter Voices” participants hope that sound will contain some answers to their questions about health care and many other issues.

You can take part in the NET News “Voter Voices” project. Record your quick and easy video on an issue that matters to you at more than two dozen libraries throughout Nebraska. Visit the “Voter Voices” web site for location and project information, and to watch some of the videos Nebraskans have recorded.

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