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Town Hall Talk: All's Quiet on the Western Front?

By Sarah Lovenheim

Given the barrage of protests to disrupt town hall meetings across the country lately, yesterday's meetings in Oklahoma were relatively quiet as Republican lawmakers from the state -- Reps. Tom Cole and John Sullivan and Sen. Tom Coburn -- took questions from constituents on health-care reform. Koco5, a news station in Oklahoma City, said people at Coburn's meeting in Oklahoma City "were fired up" about the cost of health-care reform, but reported no news of protests.

One woman who challenged Coburn's position against a public-option plan asked, "Morally, how can you deny Americans affordable insurance?" Coburn, one of two physicians in the Senate, dismissed the question, explaining instead that his concerns about health-care reform are tied to cost. "One of the reasons it's [reform's] not affordable is because the government's in the market," he said.

Cole was questioned in Mustang, Okla., about the cost of TriCare and how it could change with any reform legislation. Cole "told the audience it would not be affected," according to Koco5.

Tulsa World's Randy Krehbiel, reporting on Sullivan's meeting at the Bartlesville Rotary Club, said it was speckled with swipes at President Obama's health-care reform plans. Sullivan "suggested President Barack Obama is hiding from the press on Martha's Vineyard this week because he 'can't handle' his declining approval ratings," Krehbiel wrote.

An audience member fired back, "Until the Democrats and our president tried to do anything at all [to push health-care reform], y'all did nothing at all."

A woman, who said she was a registered nurse observed of constituents attending, "Most of you here seem to have insurance. What about those who don't have insurance?"

Sullivan said he believes Democratic proposals amount to "socialized medicine" and "pointed out that Democrats could pass a health-care bill without a single Republican vote but have been unable to muster the votes from their own ranks," said Krehbiel.

Here's a rundown of some of today's town hall meetings (all times local):

Cumberland, Va. -- Rep. Tom Perriello (D) meets with constituents at Cumberland Restaurant from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Del City, Oklahoma -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R) meets with constituents at First Southern Baptist City from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Fairport, N.Y. -- Rep. Eric Massa (D) meets with constituents at Perinton Community Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Rancho Cordova, Calif. -- Rep. Dan Lungren (R) meets with constituents at Rancho Cordova City Hall at 7 p.m.

Tell us about noteworthy town hall meetings happening near you at politicscalendar@wpost.com.

By Washington Post editors  |  August 25, 2009; 7:25 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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