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McMahon cagey on health care reform

Rep. Mike McMahon is increasingly enunciating his position on health care, and it’s a nuanced one, to say the least.

At the September meeting of Community Board 11, which was held at the Holy Family Home, 1740 84th Street, McMahon told the assembled group that he supports changes to the health care system, but is not happy with the bill now under discussion in D.C.

“It’s a really difficult subject,” McMahon stressed. “There are a lot of things to consider.”

Specifically, he said, “I believe we have to do a lot of work on our health care system. We need reform. However, where it is right now in Washington, I don’t think it’s a good package. I would vote for a good package.” What’s wrong with the plan currently under discussion? “Right now, there’s too much being asked of small businesses. There’s too much being asked of taxpayers to pay more taxes. There’s too much being asked of seniors in terms of Medicare cuts,” McMahon explained.

“However,” he went on, “we can’t run away from the fact that we have to work to make sure our health care system is able to survive. Right now, it needs work.”

A Democrat who wrested the seat in the 13th Congressional District from Republican control, in the aftermath of the scandal that wrecked the career of his predecessor, former Representative Vito Fossella, McMahon -- the closest Brooklyn pols come to a “Blue Dog Democrat” -- clearly has to tread carefully to satisfy constituents who often pull levers on the GOP line, as well as the district’s Democratic base.

Indeed, his Bay Ridge office was the site of a protest, last month, headed up by Republican and Conservative leaders in the borough, at which those who participated demanded a town hall, and also expressed their opposition to health care reform as currently being discussed in Washington.

Previously, during a stop at a Bay Ridge senior center, McMahon had assured those in attendance, “I won’t vote for any bill that changes what you like.”

But, at the same time, while questioning the viability of a public option, he had expressed support for some of the less-controversial goals of health care reform, specifically, “Mak(ing) sure people can’t be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or (be) eliminated from their policy because of catastrophic occurrences.”

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