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Town Hall Talk: The Health-Care Reform Debate

Here's a flavor of the latest bites taken at congressmen for their positions on health-care reform and a rundown of upcoming town hall meetings to monitor:

Updated 3:20 p.m. ET

Mount Vernon, Wash.-- Rep. Rick Larsen (D) took to Skagit County, Wash., to address constituents' concerns about health-care reform. KOMO TV in Seattle reported Sunday that, "while [Larsen] took some heat inside the meeting room, it wasn't until he got outside and stood face-to-face with questioners that he really felt the heat."

Larsen said that pressure came from all over the political spectrum.

"I thought I would get heckled by the right, but this is great. I'm getting heckled by the left," he told KOMO.

Pineville, La.-- Sen. David Vitter (R) told a town hall full of constituents "the angry mob is always welcome at my events," in regard to a question about unruly attendees at other town hall events around the country.

Panelists at the event were entirely against the reform plans currently floating in Congress, and "questions from audience members were screened and selected in advance of the event," according to The Town Talk.

Kennett, Mo. - Despite the rise in protests and outbursts at health-care town hall meetings, Sen. Claire McCaskill's town hall with constituents in Kennett, Mo. took place without any confrontation, according to St. Louis's Fox2 News.

Sen. McCaskill said in response to one question: "I think both sides are organizing but that's what we do in a democracy. I've seen a lot of people show up at town hall meetings. Frankly, back when I did town hall meetings a month ago we had huge crowds. I was down in southeast Missouri then... we had huge crowds everywhere. I think it's great that people are coming out."

Today's Town Hall Meetings (all times local):

Monterey, Ca.- Rep. Sam Farr (D) holds a meeting at Monterey Institute of International Studies, Irvine Auditorium at 6:00 p.m.

Clarkston, Ga.- Rep. Hank Johnson (D) holds a meeting at Fine Arts Center at Georgia Perimeter College at 7:00 p.m.

More events can be viewed at, Health Care for America Now! and Tea Party Patriots.

By editors  |  August 10, 2009; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Today on the Hill
Next: Town Hall Talk: Protesters in Baltimore


I see Vitter has taken a page from the old GWB playbook. Pack the house with supporters, and pre-screen the questions for good measure.

What a nice piece of political theatre to show how you "listen" to your "constituents." Guess what, Vitter? You're supposed to represent your whole state, not just your political supporters.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 10, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I think the protesters are only helping the republican party. It sends a signal to the 'health' companies to contribute more and more to the republican candidates.

---the total given so far is somewhere around 1 billion.

"Money can't buy me love" , but it sure can buy votes.

Remember--all that money from the drug companies got the republican congress a few years ago to pass the prescription bill that DIDN'T allow the government to negotiate for mass discounts for Medicare.

---So if you want higher medical bills, go out there and YELL bad things about this health care program--because it WILL make the cost for everyone more expensive.

Posted by: genewebster | August 10, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

May I have your attention please if you are
someone that opposes Obamacare,then please
attend the next town meeting close to you,
and be sure to wear you new "Obama the Joker" Tee-Shirt and Wave your nice new
"Obama is the Joker"-Socialism Poster as
well. Thank you. Oh do call,fax,email or
write your two US Senators and Member of
Congress and tell them Loud & Clear NO To
Obamacare And You Vote For Obamacare And
You Will Be Joining The Unemployment Line
After Election Day 2010 or 2012!

Posted by: sandy5274 | August 10, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I find many of these postings to be outlandish and ignorant. The people at these town hall meetings are being made out to be some nefarious entity. Why is it so hard to believe they are just concerned and angry citizens? Why allow DC to mischaracterize these Americans, when it was okay for illegal aliens to protest carrying the mexican flag on our streets. Why did no one blink when ACORN organized bus loads of angry mobs to the homes of AIG executives? Talk about your astroturf. What hypocrisy and cowardlyness exhibited by Pelosi and her idiotic boy toys, Steny Hoyer for one.

Posted by: candyzky | August 10, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't help that Obama is calling protestors unpatriotic

Posted by: MatthewAvitabile | August 10, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Imitating Hugo Chavez, Obama sends his "turbas" (union member thugs) to manipulate, intimidate and coerce people into submitting to socialism!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | August 10, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his accomplices are trying to shove the abomination of Obamacare and Marxism down our throats! I guess it was to be expected from Obama. As his parents, relatives, friends and mentors, Obama is a Marxist who hates the U.S. As such, he 's destroying the economy and he's enslaving is through power grabs like Obamacare and Cap and Trade. He's working much faster than Hugo Chavez at destroying the economy and enslaving us. No wonder the Russians are gloating: "The American descent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple…”

Posted by: AntonioSosa | August 10, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Candyzky, those people disrupting town hall meetings are not being mischaracterized. Those people obviously did not go there to have a civil conversation, hear what the representative had to say and ask questions. If they did then they would have calmly asked their questions and listened to the response. If they didn't like the response then you would sit down or perhaps find a Republican representative to question. You don't go to a forum yell, scream, talk over the person who is speaking and otherwise be obnoxious.

A lot of people already have ideas given to them by the right wing hacks and perputated by Republicans in Congress. You all don't want to hear a thing President Obama has to say and you won't believe it any way. Some people are even screaming for government to stay out of their Medicare. Imagine that, when Medicare IS government run single payer health care. Republicans don't have any answers, mainly because they don't want any changes.

This has gone beyond health care reform and that is really sad. This has become about making sure President Obama and Democrats do not achieve the goal of having ALL Americans have affordable health care.

Posted by: catmomtx | August 10, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I've heard the message loud and clear.

People who are happy with their health care don't want or need change.

So, it ought to be written exactly that way.

For those who don't want to change their health care shouldn't have to, and those who need it ought to be able to get it.

Of course people who are happy with what they already have shouldn't be forced to change it.

Posted by: lindalovejones | August 10, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing wrong with being vocal, whether you support or oppose the health insurance reform. But being disruptive for the sake of it is a different story. If you are serving a paymaster at the insurance and PHRMA then we already know your point of view, and you do not need to keep repeating yourself. I believe most people take the time and effort to get the right information to form their views. They deserve to hear their Senator or Representative.

Posted by: Single_Payer | August 10, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

HR 676 Single Payer bill is ideal.

HR 3200 with a strong public option is okay.

But in those town hall meetings, on the blogs, and through direct contact we must be forceful with regards to the "alleged" White House deal with PHRMA. They must back out of any deal that ties the system and prevents it from negotiating drug costs. This will be a repeat of Medicare part D, aka prescription donut hole that the Bush admin stuck our seniors with.

The NYT cited annonymous sources denying this deal, but they broke the story in the first place. Robert Reich, in his blog, also did not list names. The WH needs to come clean on this.

Posted by: Single_Payer | August 11, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I think it is funny. The Democrats are always used to being the opposition, now they are in charge they are having problems with people opposing them.

The problem with health care reform is that:

Nobody understands the details,

The drug companies have already made deals to protect their interests.

The insurance companies are trying to make deals to protect their interest.

Nobody knows what it will really cost

Nobody has a good idea what it will take to pay for it (whatever it costs)

Some people believe everyone should have health coverage, and others do not.

People do not understand that forcing hospitals to treat people that have no insurance and can not pay, raises the rates for the people that can pay.

Some people are worried that in a universal health care situation government will say what procedures are covered and what procedures are not. But they forget that for profit insurance companies are doing it to them already.

78% of the people in Canada LIKE their universal coverage health care system. That can not be said of the U.S.

Some people are scared of change and the unknown.

Posted by: kmoravec | August 11, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Senator McCaskill is not having trouble at her meetings because she is listening to the people. She is not calling them "unAmerican","astroturf", "republican pawns" or any other negative names. They are giving respect because she gives credence to their concerns.She has much more dignity and class than Ms. Pelosi. Ms. Pelosi is disdainful. She fuels the anger.

Posted by: inmanorj | August 11, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Looks like to me that the American people have had enough of the nancy marie antoinette Polsi's and the barbara Queen Elizabeth boxer's and the rest of the joint....maybe the next election it'll be a clean sweep with both parties.....Like George Wallace once said...thats not a dime difference in either one.

Posted by: lucygirl1 | August 11, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | August 11, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

What we all need to realize is that under the current system, NO ONE except the fabulously wealthy can assume that they will never lose health insurance. Just before I moved back to the U.S. from Japan in 1998 I was faced with the ugly prospect that I might have gum cancer. The only way I could get treatment was to remain in Japan, which has national health insurance for ALL (including foreigners such as myself). My husband has been laid off twice in the past two years; if I were a stay-at-home mom we'd all be in grave trouble. A public health insurance option is the only way out of this ridiculous situation. If other advanced countries can do it, so can we. Failure to do so at this late juncture will only seal our fate as a failing economy in the 21st century.

Posted by: 2meko | August 12, 2009 3:01 AM | Report abuse

While the shouting may be unproductive, constituents opposed to the current bill KNOW what is in it; they don't need their representatives to "tell them", particularly if said Rep. hasn't read the bill. Their message is clear: "Don't Vote For The Bill." And if elected representatives don't acknowledge & respond to what their constituents want, well, that's what voting is for.

Posted by: mspencerellsworth | August 12, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

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