By Ken Stone
Ender Harris of the College Area attacked from the right. Ernest Danese of Normal Heights drilled from the left.
Caught in the middle was Rep. Susan Davis, fending off health-care critics at an otherwise low-key Town Hall meeting Monday night at San Diego State University.
Fighting a cold, the nine-term Democrat heard Harris, 51, detail what he called his skyrocketing insurance rates and premiums under the current health-care system.“I have a lot of medical conditions,” said Harris, a former Los Angeles Times Syndicate editor who now does freelance work. “Nobody expects Obamacare to last another 10 years. … A bad plan can be fixed. You have no plan.”
Davis, 73, invited Harris to visit her local office to review his “situation” that he says led to him paying three times as much for health insurance.
Outside Montezuma Hall at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, Harris said he wasn’t happy with her answer, calling it “the kind of thing politicians would say when they don’t have an answer.”
Minutes later during the nearly two-hour Town Hall came Danese, 62, who loudly implored Davis on the same issue.
A retired mental-health clinic staffer who also worked at jazz station KSDS, Danese sounded off on what he considered her failure to support HR 676 seeking a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer system.
Danese cited the health-care industry’s $62,500 in donations to her campaign — over several cycles apparently — as evidence Davis is invested in the current system. (OpenSecrets.org ranked Davis’ $18,000 from “Health Services/HMOs” in the 2015-2016 period as her No. 7 source of money.)
Pointing to a Pew Research Survey that found 60 percent of Americans (and 85 percent of Democrats) back a single-payer system, Danese told Davis: “If you stop taking corporate money, I’ll send you $27. You have my word.”
Davis denied that donor money influenced her in that way but said she appreciated his passion. She said she didn’t want to raise the single-payer flag while Obamacare was under assault.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Davis said it wasn’t true that she was taking health-industry money to avoid backing HR 676.
“If we focused on [single-payer], we would let things slip through our fingers,” she said. “It’s hard for people to see that, but right now it’s not something…. We have to keep our energy on things that really matter to people today.”
Danese later sent voice mail to Times of San Diego, criticizing a recent Davis email survey of 53rd District residents that asked only whether voters supported Obamacare or “Trumpcare.”
“You couldn’t vote for single-payer,” he said. “So I think that’s pretty sleazy.”
The second major Town Hall topic asked how the warring parties in Congress could find a way to compromise, or as Rita Weiler of Hillcrest said, “come to their senses.”
Davis says she saw bipartisanship in the aftermath of the Rep. Steve Scalise shooting in Virginia — which reminded her of the nation’s coming-together after Sept. 11, 2001, when she was in her first term.
But she said if plans are proposed “that hurt people,” and “if my [GOP] colleagues are part of that, I have to call them out.”
Near the end of the meeting — as the audiences dwindled from 350 to 70 — a Spring Valley man worried about a shutdown of Colorado River water supplies to Southern California.
But he offered Davis a solution — an aqueduct bringing water “wasted” in the ocean from the Columbia River in Washington State.
“Then we’ll all have water for the rest of our lives,” he said.
Times of San Diego aired the entire meeting on Facebook Live, which can be viewed here:
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