Archive for August 10, 2009

So, I was at a Town Hall meeting …

Congressman  Joe Courtney hosted a Town Hall meeting on Thursday (August 6th) to discuss health care reform.  This is the third such meeting I’ve been at since mid July.  The first two were sparsely attended and extremely civil.  People listened, had questions, and told their own stories about problems and concerns regarding health care coverage.  Last week’s meeting was entirely different.  How?

  1. The room was packed. Standing room only.  Hundreds of people in attendance, in the most out of the way area in CT on a summer night!
  2. The atmosphere was heated, literally and figuratively.
  3. People in opposition to health care reform had signs and repeated points.  Suddenly there was talk of forced euthanasia, the Constitution, and limits on care for “retarded children” and older people.  None of this was mentioned at the earlier meetings just a few weeks ago.
  4.  When one woman ( a veteran) spoke about the problems getting health care coverage for her special-needs child she was shouted down with the question: “Why don’t you move?”   When she asked back, “where is your compassion, my husband and I both served this country and have done everything right,” she was greeted with hoots. 
  5. When a local farmer spoke about the loss of her family farm and cows and her brother’s chronic illness, she was told to hurry up and sit down.
  6. When a woman with cancer told about not being able to get a needed study covered by her private insurance, someone yelled out, “Why don’t you just switch plans?”   As she had explained, she said, “I can’t, I have a pre-existing condition!”  “Awww,” said a group seated together in the crowd, feigning sympathy.

Now I am reading about these same points being made and attitudes reflected in similar atmoshpheres throughout the country.  

While many people did come to listen and learn, too many did not.  Of course this was organized.  It’s the only explanation for the dramatic difference between the meetings before and after the Congressional Recess and for the repeated talking points and style.  Unfortunately, it appears to be aimed at intimidating, not at community building, discourse, or learning.   While Congressman Courtney was prepared, respectful and even-tempered throughout, few people could have heard and too many people left scared and sad.  What a shame. 

For the health of our country, we need to reform.  We need to back away from this noise soon, before someone gets hurt. 

Oh – and we need  health care reform with a true public option.  It’s the only way to get coverage for everyone at a price taxpayers can afford.

August 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm 7 comments


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