Yesterday I attended a townhall conducted by Ed Perlmutter (CO 7). I arrived quite early but there were several groups already present. There were protesters with their signs and several unions. The smell of magic marker ink was in the air. I visited with several of the union groups to thank them for their involvement, one of them gave me a printed sign in support of health care and I then got in the line for admission very near the front. There was a significant police presence and they would occasionally roam through the crowds.
The meeting was cleverly organized in that attendees were to be let in five at a time to sit down and visit with the congressman. Ultimately I was to be in that line for nearly an hour and had the opportunity to visit with those nearby. In front of me was a father and son who owned several car dealerships and had received notice from GM that their Chevrolet and GMC,Pontiac, Buick dealerships were to be closed Oct 2010. That was their concern and reason for attendance. Behind me was a group of five or six right wing nut cases who liked to all talk at once. One of the gents had a list of excerpts from the bill that his wife had typed up. He was very concerned that the government was trying to take over his life. One of the excerpts that he shared with me was that family counseling would be covered. He interpreted this to mean that he would have to go to family counseling and the government would try to run his family. I told him that doesn’t mean he has to have family counseling but that if he had the need for counseling it would be covered and he could go out and select a counselor and it would be paid for. If gastric bypass surgery is covered that doesn’t mean he has to go out and have gastric bypass surgery. He looked a little sheepish and his lower lip quivered.
When rep Perlmutter arrived he proceeded to address the crowd to attempt to explain the procedure. He was shouted down including by the group behind me. I was about fifteen feet from him and he looked disgusted and went to the area where he would be meeting with us.
Occasionally the media would roam about with their tv cameras and this provoked significant chanting by the crowds which were now about 600 to 700 people. Each side attempted to drown out the other. The pro reform groups outnumbered the protesters by at least 2 to 1.
I was in the third group to get to confer with the congressman along with only one from the disruptive group behind me. He looked flabbergasted at being separated from his group.
Once we were seated he was the first to speak and shook the congressman’s hand, was very deferential and civil and voiced his concerns about the government taking over his life. Perlmutter responded concisely that this would not occur. I then voiced concern over the republican push for all plans being available everywhere and that I did not want to see the same thing happen as happened with credit card companies to where states, and state AGs could not prosecute bad actors in the insurance industry. He cited several components of the bill that would insure the capability of state AGs a role in prosecutions.
The auto dealers then asked about a bill that would afford them relief that was in the house. Finally a health professional who was generally supportive voiced some specific concerns. In his response, Perlmutter talked about his own 27 YO daughter, who has had seizures since childhood and is uninsurable. He is a strong supporter of 3200.
After our group was through, I returned to the crowd to mingle and visit with numerous groups. Temperatures among the opposition seemed to be waning. Police continued to mingle then retreat to the sidelines to compare observations. All was under control and I left.