So, I was at a Town Hall meeting …

August 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm 7 comments

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.

Entry filed under: Health Care Reform, Public vs. Private Health Coverage. Tags: , .

Medicare, We Hardly Know Ya The Opposition Will Vote No Anyway – So Stick With Good Health Care Reform!

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Judith Stein  |  August 10, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    We received this comment today from Dr. Margaret Flowers:

    Friends –

    I believe that this “anti-health care opposition” is a sign that we are closer to winning. This opposition is to be expected. I truly consider this movement a human/civil rights movement. If ever there was a time for nonviolence in the health care movement – the time is now. I suggest that people not be intimidated by the opposition, but don’t try to engage them either. Be present. Wear your white coat/scrubs if you have them. Stay calm and take any opportunity to speak to those who are constituents, who actually came to learn about health care and pass out educational materials. Maintain your poise and dignity – we are here for real reform, for the people who can’t get needed care, for those who are dying needlessly. We represent a position of compassion, integrity and truth. We will win in the end. The others are paid to represent corporate interests. They are being used. They don’t understand the whole picture. They are not important to us. Don’t engage them. They are not your enemy. Our enemy is ignorance and the corporate powers who work to maintain this ignorance. Our strength is the truth. Keep telling it. This is our challenge and we are up to it. Onward.

    Best regards,
    Margaret Flowers, M.D.

    PNHP (Physicians for a Natioinal Health Program) supports a publicly financed national health program. See

  • 2. Patricia Nemore  |  August 11, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I appreciate Dr. Flowers’ comments. I, too, believe the intensity of the opposition suggests we are headed in the right direction, even though I am saddened and frustrated by the compromises already made, well before we get to the endgame. I’d like to believe this ugliness is the policy equivalent of the pain of childbirth. We have plenty of work before us to ensure a successful delivery. Let’s have at it.

    Patricia Nemore
    Senior Policy Attorney
    Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.

  • 3. Tim  |  August 14, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I have an honest question (and yes, I am in the insurance industry but my company participates only in public programs so there is no underwriting involved).

    If insurance companies cannot turn down individuals who have a pre-existing condition, what is to stop someone from not getting health insurance until they need it. They could go without insurance, break their leg, and then sign up for health insurance without being denied.

    Again, this is an honest question that I don’t often see answered.

    • 4. bette thorgersen  |  August 17, 2009 at 8:56 am

      The requirement to sign up for health insurance can be backed up similar to medicare policy. If you go to he ER for treatment and have no health insurance because you did not sign up, penalties will be applied back dating to the day of requirement. I think most people will sign up because not to would be too costly.

  • 5. azagent  |  August 17, 2009 at 4:19 am

    What happened to the idea of expanding Medicare to people over 55? Starting up a public plan or co-ops is a huge undertaking. As an insurance agent I know many people who need insurance ASAP and can’t wait three years for change.

    It seems the idea of expanding Medicare – even for one segment of the population – has been dropped. Why is this?

    • 6. Judith Stein  |  August 17, 2009 at 6:31 pm

      Good question! This would be the most efficient way to provide secure health insurance to the most people at a cost taxpayers can afford. Unfortunately, private industry and those beholden to same do not seem to agree.

  • 7. Tim  |  August 17, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I am certainly for some sort of health care reform. That said, I think both sides are not doing a very good job of explaining what exactly they are proposing. Both sides seem to be to busy answering the critics and not explaining their plans.

    Having been in the insurance biz for 15 years, I can also tell you that the general populace does not have a good understanding how insurance works. The irony is that they understand perfectly how car insurance works, but not health insurance.


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Health Policy Expertise

We provide effective, innovative opportunities to impact federal Medicare and health care policies and legislation in order to advance fair access to Medicare and quality health care.

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August 2009


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