Heated Health Care Road Show Begins Again

More meetings are planned this week

When Congress members hold town hall meetings about the national health care bill, things can get a bit heated, so it should not be a surprise that U.S. Rep. Jim Himes faced a divided crowd at Greenwich Town Hall Monday night.

Himes launched the latest round of such meetings happening in Connecticut this week, and he's holding another meeting Wednesday night in Norwalk. He has moved the meeting from Norwalk City Hall to Norwalk High School because he expects a big crowd.

For 90 minutes, he said time and again that he supports a public insurance coverage option, and responded to critics who said they were worried about government-controlled health care.

The freshman lawmaker told the crowd that he believes "insurance companies do better when they do worse by us," and pointed out that nobody would be asked to give up their private insurance under the reform plan.

"I think the very real risk is nothing gets done," Himes said, according to the Greenwich Time. "This is probably the largest legislative initiative I will see in my lifetime."

Himes’ meeting comes as Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to bring the ranks together. Next week, there will be a closed-door caucus meeting, during which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants will try to convince members who are on the fence that voting for health care reform will not cost them their jobs in 2010, Politico reports

Himes is just the first September leg on the local trail of health care town hall meetings.

Democratic U.S. Congressman John Larson will host a public forum to talk about health care on Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at West Hartford Town Hall Auditorium.

Democratic U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney, who took some hits from a Republican spokesman for a recent phone conference call on health care reform, will also hold a public town hall Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Montville High School, at 800 Old Colchester Road in Oakdale.

U.S. Rep Chris Murphy is hosting coffees this week to discuss health care reform.  The meetings are being held at Shepaug Valley High School, 159 South Street, in Washington.

But it’s not just the politicians who are out spreading the word about health care. Members of the Greater Waterbury Area and Hartford Moveon.org want health care reform with a public option and they’ll hold a vigil letting everyone who’s in the area know that by sharing stories and lighting candles in memory of Senator Edward Kennedy.

They’ll be at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, at Prospect Street and Asylum Avenue at 7 p.m.

In August, Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Chris Dodd held a town hall meeting that got rather fiery, the Hartford Advocate reported.

There is a lot of pressure on Dodd, who took the lead in Congress on a national health care when Sen. Ted Kennedy became ill.

Politico reports that a Democratic lobbyist who is working closely on health care reform said Dodd needs to succeed in getting something through regarding health care, even if it means cutting a deal.  

Doug Schwartz, director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Poll, however warned that Dodd would anger liberal Democrats if he did cut a deal that does not include a government-run insurance option. That block will be important in his re-election bid, Schwartz said.

“If he’s perceived among Democrats as fighting the good fight for health care reform — even if he ends up losing — he still ends up winning,”  Schwartz told Politico.

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