KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lawmakers Face Angry Constituents In Town Hall Meetings

News organizations continue to cover contentious town hall meetings. 

NPR: "Many of the events this week appear to have been organized by conservative groups. A new Web site is called 'Operation Embarrass Your Congressman.' A widely circulated memo tells right-wing protesters how to treat their representative: 'Make him uneasy... stand up and shout out, and sit right back down... rattle him.'" The man who wrote the memo belongs to the conservative group Tea Party Patriots.

"But the memo makes clear what the protesters are aiming for - press coverage of voter outrage, even as polls continue to show that a majority of Americans support overhauling the health care system. (Journalism professor Alan) Schroeder says viewers should not take these angry scenes at face value. … For now, several lawmakers have switched to phone conferences or what they call tele-town halls to try to connect with their constituents in a more controlled environment" (Seabrook, 8/4).

In Texas, "about a hundred people demonstrated recently outside Republican Senator John Cornyn's Dallas office. It was part of a national effort organized by opponents of President Obama," NPR reports in a separate story. But "at Dallas's Democratic headquarters, phone volunteers are seeking support for a health plan that promises to insure more, if not all Americans, a plan many Congressional Democrats support. ... The group operating the phone bank, Organizing for America, used to be Obama for America during the presidential campaign. Now it's part of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC says this is the first big national policy effort since Obama took office. Eight organizers have been sent to Texas alone" (Zeeble, 8/4).

CNN also reports in a video story on a health care rally from Health Care For America Now on Tuesday, where almost sixty-five buses in two to three hours brought people from as far as Hawaii to a rally and town halls with lawmakers to help pass health care reform and universal coverage.

At the rally, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, told a health care rally on Capitol Hill Tuesday that "We need to work together to pass universal health care," she said. "There is no option but a public option" (Moorhead, 8/4).
The Daily Times, which covers Maryland and Delaware, reports: "On the lawn of Snow Hill Elementary on Tuesday, people greeted U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) with homemade signs declaring their disgust for universal health care proposals. … The first-term congressman, stopping in Wicomico and Worcester counties on Tuesday for what he advertised as an agriculture roundtable, got an earful from constituents angry over health care reform bills proposed in Washington" (Shaw and Shane, 8/5).

Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: "Nancy Pelosi is back on her home turf to push a health care reform bill she says will help uninsured and insured patients alike.The House Speaker held a roundtable discussion Tuesday at San Francisco General Hospital and heard from small business owners who said they could not afford their own health insurance" (8/4).

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