Crossposted from Dallas Nonprofit News site

As the U.S. House of Representatives continues to push for healthcare reform, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson takes a moment to share her thoughts with Dallas South News.  Here are the contents of an email interview that I conducted with the Congresswoman last week.

Dallas South News: Congresswoman Johnson thank you so much for your time.  How would you feel about about a final Healthcare Bill that does not include a public option?

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson:  Luckily, the House and the Senate bills both include a public option, and I am very pleased about that.  The simple fact is that if the insurance companies wanted to insure the uninsured people in our country, they would have found a way to do so already.  The public option will force the insurance companies to compete for customers, which will bring prices down for everyone, and it will enable people who either can’t afford coverage now or who are currently being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions to be insured.

DSN:  How do you feel about the way President Obama has handled the health insurance debate?
Rep. Johnson:  President Obama has provided incomparable leadership on health care reform, and the result is that both the House and the Senate have health reform bills that stand a good chance of passing this year.  President Obama inherited a large number of challenges from the prior administration, but he has continued to set the bar high and inspire policymakers to find solutions that improve the lives of Americans.

DSN:  What can Democrats do to gain more bipartisan support as it relates to crafting a healthcare bill that the President can sign?

Rep. Johnson: The Democrats have worked hard to include Republicans in the health care debate, and some of their ideas have been incorporated into the health care bills in both the House and the Senate.  Health care reform must happen now—too many people are struggling for us to continue with our broken system.  We want the Republicans to play a role in passing comprehensive reform, but it’s up to them whether they want to participate.

DSN:  You originally co-sponsored HR 848 which would in essence pay royalties to singers for having their music played on terrestrial radio.  Why did you decide to withdraw your name from this measure?

Rep. Johnson: After hearing from my constituents, many of whom were concerned that smaller stations, such as those that play gospel music, would be hurt by the bill, I decided to remove my name as a co-sponsor and reevaluate the issue.

DSN:  As Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, what are the most critical things members of your district and throughout North Texas should know about water as a resource?

Rep. Johnson: Many people don’t realize how much water infrastructure affects their daily lives, from the water they drink, to the pollution in their immediate environments, to the lakes and rivers they take their kids to in the summer.  Water infrastructure is a critical aspect of our nation’s public health, quality of life, and economic well-being.  Unfortunately, we continue to face a number of challenges related to water infrastructure, particularly in regard to funding, and the growing population is placing stress on our current water infrastructure, so we could lose many of the gains we have made.

DSN:  Finally, are you satisfied with the information you have received from the United States Post Office regarding their AMP study regarding the Dallas Main Post Office?

Rep. Johnson: The USPS study caused a great deal of concern and confusion among postal service employees, business owners, and residents of Dallas.  The USPS held a public input meeting in July, but I thought it would make sense to follow up with my own townhall on the issue in August, which I hope helped to clear up some of the confusion.  I have been in regular contact with the Postal Service, and I was pleased when the Office of Inspector General began an independent audit of the proposed changes in September.  In the coming months, I will continue to work with the Postal Service, and I will continue to ensure that Dallas residents know what is going on with any changes to the Dallas Main Post Office.   I hope to be able to announce the results of the audit in the coming weeks.

DSN:  Thank you Congresswoman, I hope you will join us again down the road.