Health care town hall forum has become house of horrors


We can't talk to each other any more. Less than a month ago, I blogged about a depressing town hall forum on health care hosted by Congresswoman Betty McCollum.

Now a story on suggests that what I observed in St. Paul has been seen all over the country. Excerpt:

Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops, congressmen fearful for their safety -- welcome to the new town-hall-style meeting, the once-staid forum that is rapidly turning into a house of horrors for members of Congress.

On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control.


The American people are angry and it seems no one in our government will even listen. I've sent countless emails and letters to my Congressmen and Senators. Every vote is right down party lines and they don't seem to care about us while they are spending all of our money, putting us farther and farther in debt, and now they want to run our health care. NO ONE wants what they are proposing except the Dems on the hill. If they are representing us, where is the representation when we the people are saying No and they are telling us Yes and they'll do whatever it takes to get it through.

You know I watched the video clip of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Arlen Specter's town hall in Philly. Sebelius' body language alone was enough to irritate me. She clearly doesn't want to hear anyting unless it's positive toward the health care bill. Talking under her breath while a woman was speaking. It's rude. Then Specter says they have to make decisions quickly and the crowd booed. Why so quickly? Why not take the time it deserves, that we deserve to make decisions. That was a ridiculous excuse. And by the way, it appeared the crowd booed the fact that Specter said that had to make decisions quickly, not that he hadn't read the bill.

I think they have forgotten that they serve us. I'm glad to see people getting angry. Enough is enough!!

I agree with Cami. Americans are angry and frustrated. It has never been more apparent that our elected officials are not acting on our behalf than it is now. When the politicians who are holding the meetings are expected to stick to Nancy Pelosi's talking points and can't answer simple questions, frustration is inevitable. If you want me to be impressed with any government funded healthcare option, make it mandatory for all members of congress to be covered by the plan they put forth; exactly the same one they want to me to be covered by. Then I might believe you are truly interested in healthcare reform for the good of us all.

I completely disagree with the above 2 comments. If the one and only thing Obama achieves as president is comprehensive health care reform, then I will consider his presidency a success. That is also the reason many Americans voted for him. In fact, until the misinformation campaigns of late, the majority of Americans wanted a public option.

These protests are not good because town hall meetings are meant for discussion. Protest is fine, but if it stifles debate rather than encourages it, then it is nothing more than mere thuggery. If the people against a public option bring facts and figures to back up their points, then we can have a clear civil discussion about the state of health care in this country. If all they can do is yell, then all I know is what their opinion is, not the reasons for having such an opinion.

I am neither angry nor frustrated with our elected officials who are trying to carry on a conversation with their constituents. I just don't understand people showing up to a town hall meeting and shouting when they are intended to be a time for conversation, listening, and giving an opinion and a perspective. I am far more upset by people who appear to be at these events to disrupt any conversation and do everything they can to derail health care reform.

I disagree with the first person who said that NO ONE in America wants the health care reform Congress is proposing. I do. I want to live in a society where everyone has health care coverage. I want people to have choice. I want government to provide a viable option to an insurance and health care system that is broken. I want them to talk to each other, talk to us, and make the best decision they can with our input. That is their job. That's what we ask them to do when we show up at the ballot box and vote them into these positions.

Ditto to what Jon and Lois say in support of comprehensive reform along with broad--and civil--public dialogue. I am a nurse and educator in Massachusetts and our state law that mandates purchase of private insurance (Chapter 58) has not been a success in reforming the HC System even though the law's architects namely Blue Cross and Blue Shield and "leaders" in the the MA legislature--our House Speaker and Senate President both resigned in disgrace in the past few months--have effectively conflated "insurance coverage" with "affordable access to quality health care" in a well-funded effort to spin the individual mandate law as a success.

All Americans deserve the opportunity to buy into an improved Medicare-for-All public insurance option. Thom Hartmann penned an excellent letter "Dear President Obama" recently making this very point and referencing the angry town hall meetings. The letter can be read here

The current plan is obviously not perfect, and requires intelligent discussion in order to improve. I am not convinced we need a shotgun wedding, but the "it's too big a problem to fix" excuse we heard the last eight years only allowed the status quo lobby to further pad their war chest. I am generally not in favor of more government, but as with any other sector that provides "necessary" services to the public (oil companies, power and cable/phone utilities, mass-transit, wall street, banks), when greed clouds reason and national well-being is at risk, the government needs to step up to serve and protect the public it represents. Health care does not bow to the laws of supply and demand, it needs to be regulated like any other service we can't do without.

The health care system is no better able to regulate itself than our government is able to pass campaign finance reform. Both care more about the almighty buck than the public it has sworn to serve.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on August 2, 2009 9:10 AM.

Health care reform issue: health is more than the absence of abnormality was the previous entry in this blog.

Travel, meals, all in a spine surgeon's $4,000-a-day work is the next entry in this blog.

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