Tales from the Trail

Hoyer draws jeers, cheers at healthcare town hall

September 2, 2009

It was the largest town hall meeting of his career, and the crowd of 1,500 was raucous and ready.

When the Democratic leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer, arrived to promote healthcare overhaul, they pounced. FINANCIAL/

“You’re late,” a woman roared. Hoyer showed up nine minutes behind schedule for the meeting in Waldorf, Maryland.

“We don’t believe you,” others shouted when Hoyer rejected as myths complaints that the legislation would raise taxes or the deficit.

But along with the jeers there were cheers. Many in the crowd voiced support for the drive to provide health insurance to all Americans and scores wore “Health care for America now” stickers.

“I’m glad we are finally moving forward,” said Mary McHugh, a union lawyer, drawing sustained applause and cheers.

Hoyer stated his support for one of the more controversial provisions of healthcare reform, a government-run component. “Public option is an option. You don’t have to belong to it,” he said arguing that it would lower insurance premiums by providing competition to private insurance companies.

While there is broad Democratic support in the House for a public option, Hoyer declined to predict its fate in the Democratic-led Senate.

“It is difficult to determine where the Senate is headed,” said Hoyer, reflecting the uncertainty of what will happen when Congress returns next week.

At the end of the often stormy two-hour meeting, Hoyer voiced appreciation. “I want to thank all of you for coming — whether you agree with me or not.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Hoyer on Capitol Hill in March)

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

In all the town hall meetings that i have seen i got the impression that although the representatives were trying to portray loyalty to the Obama national policy what ever it might be,they were clearly considering their own personal careers in the process. Given the option of seeing a socialist single payer health care system implemented and in the process their own careers ending is a very difficult choice to make but they know that this is a reality. this being the case they will be reluctant to fall in line, so although we will not hear the arguments that will go on behind closed doors the out come will be a watered down bill.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

I have not seen any of the town hall meetings in whole but of the parts that I have seen, the side against healthcare reform loves to cry “Socialism” and “rationing” and much worse. What they fail to realize is that our system IS breaking. Shouting that we have “the best health care system in the world” ignores the facts. The U.S. ranks 50th in the world in life expectancy. We rank 37th in the world in infant mortality. And, if it weren’t for Medicare and Medicaid which by the recent definition are Socialist programs, it would be much lower. Our immunization rates are embarrassingly low as well. Meanwhile, Canada is 8th in life expectancy.

Maybe the solution the Obama administration is proposing is not the best, but something needs to be done. Unfortunately, the Republicans have discovered that irrational opposition with no plan of their own is a terrifyingly effective strategy. Getting people to fear change is easier than getting to be pro-active before the real disaster strikes. Unfortunately, as human nature dictates, competing sides in any organization can\’t stop thinking about themselves until the situation hits a crisis mode. Republicans fear an Obama success more than “socialism” or any other red herring they may dredge up. And that, unfortunately, is the nature of the political beast.

By the way, those stats I quoted were not from some liberal think tank, it’s from the CIA World Factbook 2009.

Posted by J.Mitchell - Georgia | Report as abusive
 

Rep. Hoyer’s statement that “The public option is an option, You don’t have to belong to it” will not be true for many people. Can he guarantee that statement? I think not! I for one had earned employer sponsored Prescription drug coverage for my 44 years of service. As soon as the government introduced Medicare Part D My employer dropped my prescription coverage almost immediately. I have no doubt that my employer provided Medicare supplement insurance that I presently enjoy will suffer the same fate if a Government sponsored “public option”. Things never improve when the government gets involved.

Posted by Jerry Baker | Report as abusive
 

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