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Area residents protest House Democrats' health care bill

November 05, 2009|From staff and Capital News Service reports

WASHINGTON -- Two busloads of area residents went to Washington, D.C., on Thursday to join U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., and others lobbying against House Democrats' health care reform bill.

Near the U.S. Capitol, House Republicans, including Bartlett, spoke to a large crowd of supporters chanting "Kill the bill" and "U-S-A, U-S-A."

Reached by phone on his way back from the rally, Neil Parrott, who lives near Hagerstown, said 110 people from the Tri-State area filled two buses after just a few days of planning.

"We're already way overspent and in debt," he said, summarizing his opposition to the latest health care bill.

Parrott, who is planning to run for state delegate, has organized two Hagerstown TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party protests this year.

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Thursday was the second time Hagerstown TEA Party members protested as a group in Washington, D.C. The other was a September rally against big government.

Tyler Dunkin of Needmore, Pa., an eighth-grader at Southern Fulton Junior/Senior High School, went to the rally with his grandparents.

He said of the Democrats' health care bill, "It's going to put my generation, and maybe the next generation, in debt."

Tyler, also interviewed by phone, said he's sending a protest letter to Pennsylvania's U.S. senators, Arlen Specter and Robert P. Casey Jr.

Asked why she attended, Mary Burkholder, a retired nurse from Chambersburg, Pa., said, "Freedom and liberty, which we're losing day by day."

Burkholder said by phone that she's against "other people telling me how to run my life .... It's like they're kings on their thrones."

The House is expected to vote on the bill this weekend. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, it will cover 36 million people without insurance by 2019.

The Democrats' proposal would "lower costs for American families and small businesses and ensure that millions more have access to affordable, quality health care," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said in a news release following the bill's unveiling Oct. 29.

An alternative bill the House GOP proposed last week will cover 3 million, the CBO said.

At the rally, Bartlett said the Democrats' bill contains the word "shall" 3,400 times.

"Now, in the common vernacular, shall means must," Bartlett said. "And one of the things you must do if this bill passes is buy a health care policy approved by the federal government, and if you don't, they are going to fine you."

Parrott said Bartlett met with his group before they left Washington.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, addressed local protesters before their buses left Valley Mall for Washington in the morning.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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