Van Hollen Talks Health Care at Leisure World
There were no disruptions or wild bouts of yelling Friday when Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) met with more than 250 constituents in a chandeliered ballroom at Leisure World of Maryland in Silver Spring.
"Please be civil," one of the hosts said after Van Hollen wrapped up his rundown of House health care bills. Residents said exercised participants have been escorted out of the ballroom before. But not Friday.
There was some whispered grumbling about "socialized medicine," and impatience about getting on to the back and forth. "This is a debate?" snipped one woman.
But the most interesting part of the gathering, held in a Montgomery County community considered vote-rich territory for Maryland Democrats, was hearing which audience comments and queries netted the biggest applause.
From the left, a questioner asked when medical industry lobbyists might be banned from trying to sink reform - sparking big cheers. Van Hollen offered a reminder about that little thing called free speech. "There are constitutional issues here," he said. "You can't say people can't advertise on TV."
The other top applause line came from someone on the right.
"I have grandchildren. I am worried sick" about vast deficits and soaring Medicare costs, said a Medicare recipient to vigorous support from fellow Medicare recipients, liberal and conservative.
Van Hollen agreed that Medicare was "a lot more expensive than originally expected."
"We're going to have to address that as part of the reform," he said.
So key Democrats such as Van Hollen are joining President Obama in talking up fiscal conservatism and calling for slowing the growth in Medicare costs, agreeing with Medicare recipients who are willing to think beyond their own self interests. How that emerges in the political wash will be a key point in the debate, especially since Republicans are still smarting from being labeled anti-senior for proposing changes to Social Security. This fall will be interesting.
Late in the meeting, as the responsible, carefully considered Q and A continued, the head of the Leisure World Democrats, Jay Harding, handed over a scrawled note.
"We need health care reform. We've been talking about it for years - the Democrats have the votes - let's get on with this."
August 31, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories: Health Care , Michael Laris , Montgomery County
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