DeMint speaks to packed house at town hall meeting - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

DeMint speaks to packed house at town hall meeting

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint spoke to a packed house Wednesday during a town hall meeting to discuss the Obama administration's health care plan, as well as his own Freedom Plan.

Doors opened at 11 a.m. at Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse at 2920 Hollywood Dr. in Myrtle Beach as a line snaked through the restaurant parking lot. Hundreds of people packed into the standing room only event, while others - supporters and protesters alike - withstood the sun and heat outside.

DeMint (R-SC) kicked things off by thanking each person that showed up to the event, applauding them for being "American."

The senator quickly advanced into the hot topic of the afternoon that has been greatly debated at similar events across the nation: health care.

"The debate is not to do anything or something," declared DeMint. "The debate is whether or not we have the government control our health care or do we make what's working work better so that more people can get covered."

In front of the packed crowd, DeMint established his personal health care goal of giving every American the opportunity to own, afford and keep personal insurance policies. The question he posed, however, was how exactly to do it.

DeMint says while 80 to 85 percent of Americans are currently happy with their health care plans, a number of senior citizens are enrolled in Medicare. Legislation in Washington, the senator notes, would cut out the Medicare program.

"We can't mess with Medicare," the Republican said as he addressed current health care plans circulating through the U.S. Congress. "It's a promise we need to keep."

That is where DeMint's proposed health care plan - The Freedom Plan - came into play at the town hall meeting. DeMint's Freedom Plan would protect the right of Americans to keep their employer-based plan if needed.

However, those without coverage from their employers would be eligible for vouchers of $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for families to purchase coverage.

"No American should be forced into a government-run system that limits their choices and rations their care," he claimed.

The threat of limiting choices could be avoided, DeMint says, by creating competition among insurance companies and opportunities.

"This is common sense," he said. "It would make what's working work better. We don't need a government plan. Health care is probably the most complex and personal aspect of our lives."

Following DeMint's speech on Washington's health care overhaul, attendees of the town hall meeting had the opportunity to ask the senator questions about his position on health care and current legislation in Congress.

Outside the restaurant, dozens of protestors help up signs and gathered against DeMint, saying the public option was the way to go.

One of those protestors was Jamie Sanderson, the former Georgetown County Democratic Party Chair, who says he thinks the single payer plan would be most beneficial to the country.

"We are here for health reform," said Sanderson. "Scrap your voucher plan for health reform because it's not gonna do anything for us. Support Obama's plan."

DeMint says he will be taking what the people said Wednesday back to the Capitol after Congress' August recess.

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