Courtney in region to discuss health bill

New London - Back home for a three-week recess from Congress, Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney is traveling across the 2nd District to promote new federal legislation and answer questions on the often-complex laws.

"There are still a lot of questions, certainly, as the health care bill gets implemented," Courtney said after speaking to about a dozen seniors in New London. "Now that there's an actual law that is explicit, there is a better opportunity to explain how it works as opposed to the rumor of the week, even the rumor of the day."

Courtney spent about an hour on Monday afternoon at the New London Senior Center, where he answered questions about how the new health care bill affects Medicare and professed his support for maintaining Social Security as an entirely government-run program. He spent much of his visit discussing the health care reform bill, recently signed into law by President Obama, saying the new legislation protects the government programs seniors rely on, like Medicare, and ensures that more seniors, like those in the so-called "doughnut hole," can afford their prescriptions.

"We did not do anything that damaged the structure of Medicare, and I would say we improved it for many," Courtney said.

Courtney also touted Social Security, which will mark its 75th anniversary later this month, on Aug. 14.

"It's a program that has lived through 13 recessions," Courtney said. "It has never missed a paycheck, which is frankly something you can't say about a lot of other programs."

He said he would vote against any plan to privatize the entitlement program, something proposed by President George W. Bush during his second term in office.

"God forbid that ever would have happened," Courtney said. "People's retirements accounts would have been obliterated if they were in the private sector" during this recession.

The crowd was friendly and receptive, unlike at fiery town hall meetings that garnered significant attention last summer.

Also on Monday, Courtney visited the Coast Guard station in New London to visit with the International Ice Patrol stationed there and presented an award to Ernest "Ernie" Plantz, a World War II veteran held captive by the Japanese.

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