The following letter was received from the office of Del. Rick Impallaria:
I hope you all are enjoying your summer. As you know, I try not to bombard you with emails. But having attended Sen. Cardin’s Town Hall Meeting on health care reform last night, I want to share with you my observations, especially because of the inaccurate media reports, which said that there were a “few hundred” inside listening and a “few hundred” outside.
Inside the meeting there were 500 people — the hall was filled to capacity. Outside, I and others estimated there were between 2000 and 3000 (thousand) people. The entire crowd could have been accomodated in the gymnasium across the street, and I believe this would have been better than having so many left outside in the heat.
The “organized” group of anti health care reform bill protesters well outnumbered the supporters. They came disguised as ordinary people. Many made themselves appear old, and many made themselves appear young. They intentionally wore clothing that would make them not seem to be an organized group. Their most ingenious ploy was to carry home-made, rather than professionally made signs.
The “unorganized” pro-Obamacare group, which numbered between 100 and 200, curiously all wore the same shirts, and somehow all managed to accidentally used the same sign shop to have their professionally printed signs made.
Both groups were loud and spirited. I personally witnessed no inappropriate behavior, especially from such a large group of people.
Now for what occurred at the meeting. The first speaker was a young lady who has a young child with medical disorders. While all the attendees respectfully listened to her and her family’s plight, it was seen as a ploy by Sen. Cardin to jerk at people’s heartstrings and to eat up time before taking questions. The good news about the young lady is that her family’s medical problems were fixed — without health care reform. Mr. Cardin then presented a slide show on the health care bill. For the most part the crowd attempted to pay attention, but as the presentation went on, it seemed clear to the majority that the information was not wholly truthful, and was seen as another attempt to burn up time before the question and answer portion.
While the crowd was spirited and boisterous, their responses were directed not at Mr. Cardin personally, but at the misinformation they believed he was giving. Mr. Cardin constantly talked about things not being in the Senate bill, but my understanding is that there is no official version of a Senate bill at this time. There are at least three House versions, which Mr. Cardin danced around, not having read them, as he admitted.
One question from the audience that got loud applause was “Why not support tort reform [civil lawsuits against doctors] before changing health care as we know it?” Mr. Cardin, a life-long trial lawyer, had absolutely no answer. Is it a coincidence that 80% of the elected officials in Washington are lawyers, including Barak Obama? (I wonder what this bill would look like if 80% of Congress were doctors and nurses.)
Another question was, would Mr. Cardin put in and vote for an amendment requiring Congress to be on the government plan. This yes-or-no question was not answered yes or no. He said, “I’m already on a government plan.” But as you and I know, Congress has the best plan anyone could have, but it is available only to Congress and high-ranking government officials.
Mr. Cardin praised Medicaid and Medicare as examples of how efficiently government can run health care programs. He failed to mention that these programs are subsidized by the taxpayers and by those having private insurance, or that the government has done a horrible job of monitoring and prosecuting fraud in those systems. He avoided all questions on specifics in the bill, including questions of death counseling. He said that illegal aliens will not be eligible under this new program, but every attempt to put language in the bill to exclude illegal aliens has been blocked. He said that no additional money will be spent on abortions by the government, whereas sections of the bill clearly state otherwise.
As one gentleman so eloquently stated, “Mr. Cardin, I have never heard so many mistruths and out-and-out lies being told by an elected official,” and he proceeded to explain the provisions in the bill concerning pre-existing conditions. Mr. Cardin then asked the gentleman whether he would hear him out. The gentleman replied, “That would be fine, Senator, if you stop lying.” Mr. Cardin finally admitted that the gentleman was much more informed on the issue than he was, and asked if the gentleman would agree to sit down with him and help him understand the issues (the very issues that Cardin was at the meeting to explain!).
All in all, I don’t believe that Mr. Cardin swayed anyone to his side. Having spoken to some of his supporters afterwards, they came in supporting the idea of free health care for all, not understanding the overall ramifications of Obamacare. But they left feeling that they needed to not merely support the general concept of health care, but to understand what the bill would do before supporting it.
I must hand it to Mr. Cardin. He stood up to the firing squad, and was always polite and respectful to the audience. The attendees, while very spirited, did not indulge in personal attacks on Sen. Cardin or Pres. Obama, but attacked the policies they proposed. It was a wonderful exercise of free speech.
P.S. If anyone would like the links to the text of the bill, or the addresses of Md. Senators and Congressmen, please email me for them. This is already long enough!
P.P.S. Also in attendance were Delegates McDonough, Boteler, Frank, Aumann, Lafferty, and Speaker Pro Tem Jones. Delegate Warren Miller was present outside but was unable to get into the meeting room.
Delegate, District 7