Rep. Speier holds health care town hall

August 24, 2009 10:45:52 AM PDT
The debate over health care reform is drawing big crowds and even stronger emotions. Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier held her latest town hall meeting Sunday and it drew so much interest organizers had to move it outside.

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It was a divided crowd. There was plenty of applause and there were boos, but the forum in Montara was about real people expressing themselves both civilly and emotionally about reforming healthcare.

"I'm about ready to lose my job," said one woman. "I'm about ready to lose my health insurance."

"I've been through breast cancer three times and I can tell you right now that the challenge of trying to find insurance was worse than going through any of the cancer treatment," another woman told the forum.

"We have the best health care program in the world," one man proclaimed to a chorus of boos. "You can go to any hospital and get taken care of," he continued despite the interruptions.

"Beyond smoke and mirrors, under the guise of health care, we're all concerned and scared that this is a bullet train to socialism," another man later said to another chorus of boos.

Hundreds of San Mateo County residents huddled together on the playground of an elementary school to share their personal experiences, their hopes and their fears about health insurance. Speier moderated the town hall forum and used statistics to drive home her support of the health care reform bill.

"22,000 Americans will die this year, and next year, and the year after that because they couldn't access health care. Now, in my view that's immoral," she told the citizens.

"We do not want any more interference in our private lives. We don't want you to come here and force this bill upon us with the talking points of the morality," a woman told the congresswoman.

"The federal government has never actually successfully run any program and kept it fiscally solvent. So, what assurances do we have that this time you're going to get it right?" another woman asked.

There were many in the crowd who shared compelling stories of their reasons for wanting reform, including a family whose 3-year-old son has a debilitating spinal disorder.

"We've had about $50,000 in expenses over the last year and half that we had to pay out of pocket even though we have health insurance," the father said. "And, I just think it's obscene. We've paid and played by the rules this whole time. And yet, that's rationing of care."

"We deserve health care for everybody here so that we don't have to lose our homes," one woman said to a round of applause.

Citizens will get another chance to express themselves next week. Congresswoman Speier is sponsoring another forum next Saturday morning at Burton Park in San Carlos.

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