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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Woodall slammed for health care

Local activists challenged U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall last week during a town hall meeting in Dacula.

Members of the local Move On Gwinnett chapter repeatedly questioned the first-term congressman about his support for massive cuts to Medicare.

A video of the confrontation was emailed by the Democratic Party of Georgia, blasting the Republican for saying he uses the federal health care plan because it is free.

"Your health care is not free, Congressman Woodall," the email said. "We taxpayers are paying for it. While you believe Congress should get free health care, you deny it to ordinary citizens."

But Woodall said he simply wants to give people access to the same kind of program he has. Recently, he had to get a chest CT and, because the money was coming from a health care savings account, he shopped around for the best price.

"That's the lousy part about being a government employee," he said of his health care costs being a burden on taxpayers. "I hope we are going to do enough work to justify the expense."

In a press release from Move On, activists said they were surprised at Woodall's reaction, saying freedom to choose is more important than quality for care and that those seeking better care should live in another country.

"I was appalled by his callous indifference to the needs of the poor, the elderly and the disadvantaged," the press release said one citizen said as she left the meeting.

"By voting for a budget that cuts Medicare funding in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy, Woodall clearly favors balancing the budget on the backs of senior citizens," another Move On member said in the release.

Woodall said he recently met with Move On activists and discussed the issue in his office. At the town hall meeting, most people wanted to voice concerns over energy prices, but he said the group did a good job of shifting the conversation.

"Those are important discussions to have," he said of the health care and Medicare debate, saying he did not mind the topic change. "Town hall meetings have been a time honored tradition. I love that people want to give up their Saturdays (to be involved.)"

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.