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More left out of health care forum than let in

August 12, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

o If you want to voice your opinion on health care reform efforts and Wednesday's town hall event, go to the Local Shoutbox page.

Slide show

Emotions run high at Cardin health care plan forum

Cardin visits Tri-State Community Health Center

HAGERSTOWN -- More people were left outside than managed to get seats inside of Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater Wednesday afternoon for U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin's town hall meeting about health care.

Many of those who weren't let through the doors broke into small groups scattered across HCC's lawns to talk, debate and occasionally scream about their views. Several sheriff's deputies in plainclothes made their way through the crowd.

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People gathered to sing "God Bless America" in front of news cameras. Someone in that crowd held a sign that read, "Obama Lies, Grandma Dies."

One group began chanting "No More Socialism," to which Patricia Truax-Blair and Trudy Mackrell-Metz began a response of "Burn Your Medicare Card."

Don Lutz was standing nearby as the chanting continued. He and Truax-Blair quickly entered into an argument, before each agreed to take questions from a reporter to share their views.

Lutz, who is insured through an employer, said the rhetoric surrounding the health care debate is not addressing the specific health care plan everyone is talking about. He wants more information about the plan itself, Lutz said.

He hasn't heard anything about how the government is going to control costs, only talk of creating more health care jobs, which will employ more people at high salaries, driving up costs, he said.

Lutz, 57, of Keedysville, said he believes those who take care of themselves should get some type of monetary reward for taking personal responsibility, he said. He also wants to look at the issue of tort reform, something he believes Democrats have not been willing to talk about, Lutz said.

Truax-Blair, 54, of Big Pool, and her son Mackenzie Blair, 18, attended the town hall meeting together.

She couldn't get over the amount of misinformation people shared Wednesday, Truax-Blair said.

Neither she nor her son understood the point of posters depicting President Obama with a mustache similar to that of Adolf Hitler.

"The rhetoric is perpetuated by ignorance and hate," Blair said.

She worries the divide will destroy the country, Truax-Blair said.

The pair listed things people should not do if they are opposed to government involvement-- don't drive on a public highway, go to public school, need firefighters, police or medics, or visit a public library.

Truax-Blair believes those with insurance already pay for the health care of all Americans by paying more for the health services they receive.

Megan Olson, 18, of Thurmont, Md., was another of those left outside.

"I don't like seeing how my country's going, and it really scares me," Olson said. She has been to Venezuela, where she said health care doesn't work.

"People come from other countries for our doctors," she said.

James Moore and his wife, Bonnie, of Hagerstown, were left just a few spots behind the last person admitted to the event.

James Moore was not happy. Politicians probably selected who was let in, he said. They arrived at 11:15 a.m. to wait in line, and were supposed to have been about the 330th people in line, for a venue that had room for 450, Moore said.

The event began at 1 p.m.

"Health care is between me and who I choose," Moore said.

He also opposes having his tax dollars pay for abortions, a procedure he believes will be covered under some of the proposed legislation, he said.

Bonnie Moore, 61, is on the verge of collecting Social Security. She worked and paid taxes, and now is afraid Medicare won't be there for her. She's concerned that she's about the age where they'll start thinking she's not worth anything, Bonnie Moore said. She's worried about the end-of-life counseling that's been in the news.

"A 30-year-old is much more productive than I am," she said.

Amanda Kennedy, 21, also was left out of the meeting, where she wanted to voice her support for health care reform. She is studying education at Shepherd University and is in the Air Force ROTC program. She plans to become commissioned as an officer upon graduation, Kennedy said.

She has a problem getting insurance because she was born without one of her eyes and uses a prosthetic eye, Kennedy said. It's considered a pre-existing condition. Right now, she is uninsured because she was kicked off her parents' insurance when she took a semester off school.

For Kennedy, health care reform is about, "helping every American trying to do the best they can."

Jean Oliver, 70, traveled from Greencastle, Pa., for the town hall meeting. She is concerned about people older than 65.

"At my age, if the health care plan goes in, I'm one of those on the way out," Oliver said.

Oliver got involved in a long discussion with some of those standing in line near her Wednesday morning as they waited for the doors to open.

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