A Campaign Event Healthcare Town Hall
I’m about a half hour late, but I’ve made it all the way across town in Tiverton for John Loughlin’s healthcare town hall event, as part of his campaign for Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s seat. There are quite a few people here — somewhere around 130 or 140 — with a high local contingent. I can’t be the only person who found the 5:30 start time a little early for a three hour event, but plenty of people turned out.
Steve Peoples and other Providence Journal folks are here. Local papers. And a couple small-camcorder folks.
As I set up, RIILE’s Terry Gorman was talking about illegal immigration and healthcare. That issue has dominated the audience questions. It appears to be a very friendly crowd, by the way.
Bill Felkner just quoted Obama’s “if you like the healthcare that you have” line and the audience pretty broadly agreed: “he lies.”
Loughlin: “Is Joe Wilson here?”
One audience member noted that a family of five owes more as a function of national debt than the average mortgage payment in Rhode Island. “Are we nuts?”
The tempo of the event seems to pick up when the topic pushes the boundaries of the healthcare issue. One audience member just asked Rep. Loughlin about his intentions with respect to the military and veterans. Loughlin was clearly more animated, and the audience began to get worked up.
Perhaps the lesson is that he should have issue-related events with targeted audience and relevant panelists (e.g., military folks speaking on military issues… Afghanistan would be good). Keep momentum rolling. Use the campaign almost as a political tool for raising current events, making the emphasis of his campaign the issues — and the voters’ concerns — rather than himself.
One of the panelists made the point that the American healthcare system is not the best healthcare system in the world. The audience was split on whether to shout objections or to shout objections to the objectors.
Peter Asen (of Ocean State Action, I believe), who was also at the Kennedy event, just stated that, in Rhode Island, only Blue Cross offers individual plans because only Blue Cross is willing to play by the rules and abide by coverage mandates (such as preexisting conditions). His argument was that we can’t allow healthcare buying across state lines because everybody will flock to the cheapest programs in states that let them get away with everything.
Well, that pretty much sums up the differences in philosophy. The left wants to institute “fixes” and then layer on controls when the outcomes don’t match their desires. As they must, the controls will simply ratchet.
Every newspaper in the room sought comment from Mr. Asen.
The audience isn’t ready to move away from the question of whether the United States has a bad healthcare system.
Room thinning quickly.