Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Note on Health Care Reform in the 8th District

With an impending vote on health care reform expected this week, it was not surprising to read that people are out voicing their support. Last Thursday a rally was held in Doylestown, at reported by OFA-PA:

OFA-PA volunteers and supporters of health insurance reform rallied outside Congressman Patrick Murphy’s Doylestown office yesterday to thank him for supporting health insurance reform. At the rally, supporters outnumbered the opposition 2-to-1—making clear that constituents of the 8th Congressional District support health insurance reform and will be there to back up the congressman as he keeps fighting for them.

On Monday when President Obama was in the area speaking in favor of health care reform, Gary Weckselblatt wrote in "200 protest plans for health reform" (Intelligencer, March 9) about a rally against the legislation, featuring at least one Republican running for the 8th congressional seat:
One man looking to change jobs, and go from attorney to Congress, is Mike Fitzpatrick who spoke to the tea party organizations.

"We can't sit back any longer after what's being proposed for our health care system," said Fitzpatrick, who called on 8th District Congressman Patrick Murphy to hold a face-to-face town hall on health care. He said Murphy should "stop hiding from his own constituents and allow the people of the 8th District to have a voice in this process."

" Patrick Murphy has committed to supporting legislation that has not even been made available for public scrutiny. He is long overdue to meet with his constituents, explain his position and listen to their concerns."

Murphy, who held two town halls by telephone last summer, has voted for health care reform and supports a government run insurance option that competes with private firms.

Asked for a response to Fitzpatrick's call for a town hall, Murphy spokeswoman Kate Hansen stated in an e-mail that "Murphy has listened to the concerns of constituents all over Bucks County, and that's why he supports cracking down on insurance industry abuses and providing tax credits to help small businesses and families afford health care."

I listened in on two teletownhall meetings that Murphy held on health care this summer (Aug 27th and Sept. 17th). One of those calls engaged 6,000 callers, far more than could be accomodated at an in-person meeting, and questions were taken from callers on both calls.

Not mentioned was a Sept. health care rally that Murphy attended and spoke at. Unfortunately it was disrupted by people yelling, chanting, and otherwise interfering with the ability of those interested in hearing what was said. When people keep shouting "read the bill!" after Murphy has said he did read the bill there isn't a lot more he can do. Two other highlights are the person who kept shouting about who supposedly actually wrote the bill, only it kept changing. And who can forget the woman who told a retiree on Medicare that she was a lazy bum and should go back to Canada, followed by the comment that "Jesus would throw you out!"

In early August, two planned "Congress on your corner" events, originally planned as one-on-one meetings with constituents, turned into impromptu townhall meetings when over 100 people showed up ("Murphy hears it from both sides," by Andy Vine, Aug. 2nd)

It's always important for constituents to let elected officials know how they feel about issues, but civility (and sanity) should still be followed. Shouting, chanting, and keeping those who want to hear and discuss from doing so, aren't the way to go.


Anonymous said...

I was at the rally the other night and I would say the attendance was pretty evenly split between supporters of Obamacare and those opposed. One thing I also noticed was how many of the pro forces had printer manufactured signs with slogans like Healthcare for All. Each of these signs had AFL-CIO on them as well. The opposition had a number of Don't tread on me flags and all the others were for the most part clever hand made signs. It was civil and yes there was shouting but from both sides. My 13 year old son loved it. His comment afterwords, was "how great is it that we live in a country where we can do this".

As for the teletown halls, I too listened in and I am not sure where you get the 6000 number, but no follow up questions were allowed and all the questions were pre-screened. Congressman Muprhy is doing himself and his constituents a disservice by not coming home and explaining this process, the bill (s) and his vote since the bill(s) are different from the House bill he voted on in December. That said, I am supporting Gloria Carlineo in the Republican Primary.

Nice blog!

AboveAvgJane said...


I'll have to go back through my notes and old emails to see where the 6K figure is from but I've heard similar figures for teletownhall meetings in other districts and so do not think it is unrealistic.

What aspect of the process and the bill do you want to know about? I think those items have been covered but might be missing something.

On pre-screening questions, etc., I agree with this. It cuts down on the same question being asked multiple times or people saying "have you read the bill?" over and over. If I'm taking time out of my evening to listen to a call I don't want to have to listen to the verbal equivalent of an unmoderated comments section.

Thoughtful, even pointed, questions should be asked of elected officials, but the general public should not have to sit through someone's nonsensical ranting outbursts or attention-seeking behaviors.

People will always disagree on things but how one does so says a lot about character.

Thank you for providing your views on the Doylestown rally. I really appreciate that, and for leaving such a thoughtful comment.