Town Hall Talk: Republican Trio Wary of Reform's Price Tag; Democrat Concerned About Public Option Plan
By Sarah Lovenheim
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "took turns pounding the Democratic plan" for health-care reform yesterday in Kansas City as reform advocates protested on the street, according to a local radio station, KMBZ 80. The forum at Children's Mercy Hospital was invitation-only, limiting the crowd to fewer than 100 people.
During the forum -- which included a group of health care professionals -- Republican senators called President Obama's health-care reform initiative "outlandishly expensive" and suggested it would lead to further economic instability. They said reform "could lead to rationing and outsized budget deficits for years to come," according to the Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske.
Slate magazine's Christopher Beam said McCain and McConnell stressed the impact of reform on business owners. They "repeatedly stated that the Obama plan would be paid for on the back of small businesses," he wrote.
Photos compiled by the Kansas City Star of the senators' hospital visit can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, in downtown Springfield, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) led a town hall meeting of nearly 1,200 people, some of whom lined up six hours in advance of the event, at the Gillioz Theater. McCaskill "vowed" to oppose legislation lacking "legal restraints" on a public option plan, according to the Springfield News-Leader's Chad Livengood.
"I can't support a bill that will allow the public option to become the public mandate," the Missouri Democrat said.
At times, the "mostly conservative crowd" was disrupted by people shouting out concerns. One man "asked McCaskill how she could justify expanding government-run health care, when the U.S. Constitution says nothing about health insurance being an inherent right," Livengood said.
McCaskill responded that the government acts in many ways not addressed in the Constitution.
"There's nothing in [the Constitution] that says we can give money to the dairy farmers to help them with their milk prices," she said. The audience reacted with boos.
McCaskill told reporters that despite her support for health-care reform, "she knows Missourians will not tolerate a single-payer health-care system totally run by the government."
Write us with news from today's town hall meetings at email@example.com.
Washington Post editors
September 1, 2009; 10:35 AM ET
Categories: Health Reform
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