Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Get a Life!: Town hall meetings disturb August slumbers

It is the dog days of summer and there is a lot of unexpected barking going on. Normally, when Congress takes its August break, traffic and government becomes noticeably quieter in Washington, D.C. It is still quieter in the halls of government but much, much louder in the home states of Congressman and Senators.

Town hall meetings are loud and boisterous on the topic of health care reform. Congressman brave enough to hold those meetings should be considered for hazardous duty pay. They hold these meetings to hear constituent interests, and they are hearing the sentiments loud and clear.

Some of the comments are ugly, some are orchestrated by others, but anger and confusion are the clear signals we get. Regardless of what they say or how they say it, people do not understand what is going on in Washington, and they do not trust their elected representatives.

From what I read, lost in the shouting about fears and costs, is the basic issue: Too many people can’t get health care because they can’t pay for it.

I remember working on this very issue as a communicator at Health and Human Services Department in the 1970s. At that time, there were some 30 million people without health insurance. Little has changed -- the number remains remarkably about the same today.

Proposals developed back then even included a fancy health care card. But the debate was endless and nothing ever passed. What is different now, 30 years later, is that the debate has gone to the streets in the heat of the summer.

The question remains whether Congress will return from these unusual dog days with a clearer understanding of what they need to do and a determination to do it. Then we all will have something to bark about.

Posted by Judith Welles on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:12 PM


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