Kabuki theater can be a good thing

Posted 12 August 2009 by

The Hon. Rick Larsen, US Representative from the 2nd District of Washington State (D), moved his Everett, Washington, town hall forum on health care to Everett Memorial Stadium. For a bit more than 2.5 hours, Rep. Larsen led a respectful discussion with a crowd estimated by several sources of around 3000 people, including the Everett Police.

There were large, well-organized groups from all sides of the debate. Larsen answered the concerns and problems presented by the left as well as the right. He also said he has come to better appreciate the organized reaction to health care reform from all sides.

The video (taken using my BlackBerry) shows Larsen answering a question about where the constitution mandates the US government passing health care legislation. His answer was that the constitution doesn’t. He also said that the constitution does not mandate Congress establishing the US Air Force, either. After passing legislation, Larsen said opponents would have the opportunity to challenge the reform bill in court.

Many of the questions were from those that heard that the bill included many things that were not there. This included things like giving the federal government access to your personal bank accounts or forcing you to change your insurance carrier. He patiently answered each question with facts from the current House bill under consideration. There was only one case where Larsen said the questioner would have to contact his office for the office later for the answer.

It was clear that Larsen had studied the bill and knew what was in it.

One person, who had taken his question from the talking points of health care reform opponents, scoffed at Larsen’s answer. Larsen’s reply was “I’ve got facts on my side and you’ve got Glenn Beck on your side.”

Those favoring a public option for health care have been concerned that Larsen has not supported this option yet. His explanation was that the current bill tied the reimbursement rates for a public option to Medicare reimbursement rates. In many states, such as Washington, the current Medicare reimbursement rates did not cover the cost of health care for those using this plan. Many doctors are now refusing to take Medicare patients. As a result, Larsen did not want a lot of people on a public health care plan that doctors would not accept. This would not solve the problem.

In answering a later question, Larsen said that he would prefer that the reimbursement rates for the public plan be negotiated just as any other insurance plan.

In covering some related issues, Larsen supported adding more slots to doctor and nurse training programs so that there would be enough providers for those with insurance. He also said that the issue of tort reform should be looked at for those providers following the best practices that would be established under the bill.

The crowd in the town hall meeting was very respectful. Larsen was in good form for the entire 2.5 hours.

The only real problem happened before the forum in one of the parking lots. A LaRouche supporter had a poster of Obama made to look like Hitler. It was the “teabaggers” that took exception to this person, interestingly enough.

The chair of the Snohomish County Democrats heard something that amazed him. It is also very telling. An elderly lady said that she was against health care reform because she didn’t have long distance service on her telephone.

Yes, you read that right. She didn’t have long distance service.

Inquiring further, she said that under the health care reform bill she would have to call a switchboard in Washington, DC, to make an appointment with her doctor. She wouldn’t be able to do that because she didn’t have long distance service.

When the chair said that this is not part of any health care reform bill, all the friends of this lady “corrected” him, saying that calling a central switchboard to make appointments was a part of the bill.

Is this lie being told in other places?

Who is telling it?

If this is part of an organized plan to derail health care reform, all I want to know is how low can you go? How could any person of even a little honor scare senior citizens like this and be able to sleep at night?


Postscript
I have seen the Facebook post by Bill Phillips about the 20-year Navy vet and his comment about those that say the government can’t do anything right.

I admit I left this out of my original blog post. I had posted this comment, though, on Twitter when it occurred:

20yr Navy Vet at Larsen Health Care Forum: When you say govt can’t do anything right, you’ve insulted 20 yrs of my life.

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in freedom, thank a vet.

Thank you.

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