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Tom Reed defends healthcare bill at heated town hall

A hostile crowd in Ithaca lambasted Finger Lakes Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) this weekend over his support for legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. The Republican said his party’s proposal was just the first step in a long process to reform the country’s healthcare system, but the participant’s in Saturday’s town hall said congress is heading in the wrong direction.

Reed calmly tried to defend the Republican health care bill, batting back criticism from constituents who fear the loss of the Affordable Care Act could have dire consequences for their healthcare coverage. Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Cortland) said the effects could be even worse for residents of states like New York that expanded Medicaid.

“When people don’t have health insurance they delay care, they go to the emergency room -- which is terrible healthcare -- and they die," Lifton said. "They die at the rate of 25,000 to 30,000 people a year without insurance. How can you possibly say this is an acceptable compromise that you are voting for? It is not.”

Reed, who helped pass the replacement bill out of committee last week, said the GOP’s plan will resolve the issues facing the healthcare industry, primarily by rolling back government control. That was not well received by the crowd that was advocating for the opposite approach.

Reed promised to take the input he received during the town hall into consideration as Congress moves forward. But one of the few vocal supporters of the Republican plan at the event, Thomas Taylor, offered a sobering reminder to those in attendance that a new administration is in control of Washington.

“There was an election," Taylor said "You were elected on things you championed and promises and I would remind you that you do not lose elections by keeping your promises, you lose elections by breaking your promises.”

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.