Perry talks ACA, abortion during Facebook town hall
Abortion, contraception and the Affordable Care Act were hot topics Wednesday night during a Facebook Live town hall held by U.S. Rep. Scott Perry.
At just over an hour long, the town hall had nearly 3,000 comments and about 7,300 views.
During the town hall, Perry, R-Dillsburg, gave his thoughts on how the Affordable Care Act would be replaced, and he also addressed government-funded abortion, among many other topics.
Abortion and contraception: Perry was questioned a few times about contraception and abortion. Perry said he didn't believe the taxpayers should pay for either.
“I just don't think I should be involved in your contraceptive choices, it's none of my business," Perry said. "But, conversely, I don't think that it's my business to pay for it either."
He said he is aware that the government will pay for things such as Viagra.
"I don't think we should be paying for that either, that's the individual's business, not mine," he said.
Perry said he understands abortion is legal but said he was opposed to taxes funding abortions.
"I don't believe that we should force people to pay for abortion through their taxes," he said. He said he took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Perry added that "life" is the first one listed.
"If you take an oath to protect life, you have to protect life," he said.
Perry said that federal funds pay for Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country, which he said reports hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.
According to Forbes, Planned Parenthood had a surplus of $61 million from annual revenue of $1.298 billion in the fiscal year 2014-15.
Perry said some people have a great moral opposition to abortion because of their religion.
"We shouldn't force them ... to pay for abortions," he said.
Federal funding to Planned Parenthood cannot by law be used to pay for abortions. Perry said if Planned Parenthood is reporting that much money in profit where tax money is fungible, he said the organization could allocate the money for one thing, enabling them to do other things at the organization..
"That's tantamount in many people's minds to paying for abortions," Perry said.
ACA: The first question posed to Perry was how Republicans intend to replace the ACA.
“What we’re looking to try to do is a patient-centered approach that encourages involvement of every individual and provides health care coverage to everybody in the country one way or another,” he said.
He said he would like to provide tax benefits to employers when they spend money on insurance for employees. Perry said Republicans would like to have benefits for employers, associations and individuals.
"That will create more customers," he said, adding that that will create more competition and lower prices.
Perry also said he was interested in block-grant Medicaid for the uninsured or poor. He said with the federal government, there are a lot of strings attached.
“We would like to just say, here’s the money, states — you decide how to spend it," he said.
He said he would like to have the alternative ready for when the ACA is repealed.
Aside from the ACA and abortion, other topics such as Russia, autonomous vehicles and the Department of Education were discussed.
Town hall: Many people commenting were asking when Perry would do an in-person town hall, to which he defended himself by saying he frequently does them.
"We're going to continue to have them," he said.
According to his website, perry.house.gov, his most recent in-person town hall meeting was in July.
One person called Perry's town hall "cowardly."
"I've been accused of a lot of things, but a coward is not one of them," Perry said.
He said his office will help set up meetings with constituents.
“If you call the office and want to have a meeting, we will get you a meeting," Perry said.
'Paid protesters': During the town hall, one user asked Perry about paid protesters.
“Please tell me where I can collect my protest check, being a single working mother in poverty is rough," the commenter wrote.
While speaking with Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel on Tuesday, Perry said he had seen Facebook “ads for paid protesters” outside town halls recently held by Republicans, according to a tweet from Weigel.
Perry spoke to other members of Congress and saw news reports about “well-financed progressive groups, including Organizing for Action, MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress, organizing protest efforts in other parts of the country against Republican officials,” Perry’s spokesman Bob Reilly said, adding that the groups have used social media to spread their message.
However, Reilly did not confirm Perry’s statement that the advertisements for these organizations' protest efforts included offers for payment.
Reilly said the congressman encourages his constituents to be “active participants in our democracy and to be heard.”
“In the last few weeks, many 4th District residents have called, written or visited our offices expressing their concerns about issues like health care and immigration — on all sides of the issues. That’s how democracy should work,” Reilly wrote in the statement. “These are local citizens taking time out of their days to be engaged in our political process. They don’t need outside influences to be heard.”
During the town hall, Perry said he had read reports of paid protesters, but he did not know if they were valid.
“I’m not saying that anybody in the district I represent is involved in that," he said.
The full town hall video may be viewed here.
Staff reporter Jason Addy contributed to this report.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.