Tea Party activists take on health care

About 50 people attended a town hall meeting Thursday on health care reform at the Historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot.The meeting - on Constitution Day - was the first town hall meeting held by Myrtle Beach Tea Party Inc., which formed on April 15. "We want to educate you on what's going on in Washington, D.C.," Mark Bennett told the crowd. "There's a false sense of government responsibility. We need to inform ourselves. We have a right to the health care of our choice."Luke Towery, president of the group and one of Thursday's speakers, gave highlights from one of the health care bills in Congress, H.R. 3200 - a bill he referred to as "packed with a lot of freedom-depriving legislation." Towery, who addressed sections of the bill such as a reinsurance program for retirees, payment rates for items and services, and coverage of family therapist services and mental health counselor services - encouraged attendees to take action if the items in the bill concerned them, and to contact their representatives through e-mails, letters and phone calls.David Ognek, treasurer of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party, which advocates limited government and fiscal responsibility, talked about and questioned several items in the bill of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee - a proposal estimated to cost nearly $900 billion in the first 10 years.And he questioned differing estimates of the uninsured, asking how the number of uninsured Americans could drop from 47 million to 30 million.He and some audience members also touched on state sovereignty regulation that would prevent federal laws from being applied to each state."Tell your legislators that we need an amendment passed and reiterate the Constitution that we have state sovereignty," Bennett said.Contact JANELLE FROST at 443-2404.