Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009 01:43:29 -0400
Subject: Event report: Rep. David Price's 8/13/2009 "snap" town hall meeting
From: David Burton

Dear friends,

This is FYI, my "event report" that I sent to a church email list, about
David Price's "snap" town hall meeting.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
  From: David Burton
Subject: Re: [bmpc] Abortion, euthanasia, and healthcare: David Price town hall meeting
Cc: The Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church mailing list

Thursday, 8/13/2009

Rep. David Price's snap "town hall" meeting at NCCU's B.N.Duke Auditorium was Thursday, 8/13/2009.

I was there. The auditorium was filled to capacity (over 800) with many more unable to get in.

It turns out that parking was free, despite earlier reports that it would cost $3. I had called the campus police and asked about parking, and was told that I should go to the campus police station for a free visitor parking permit; but when I did so I was told that parking was open and free, no permit was necessary as long as I didn't park in a spot marked "reserved."

The Price staff and event organizers made a concerted effort to maximize the number of Obamacare supporters and minimize the number of opponents. Rep. Price's staff told me just two days earlier (Tuesday morning) that he would not have any town hall meetings this month except for two "telephone town hall meetings." (I'd been calling them and pestering them for an opportunity to meet with him -- I even offered to bring pizza or Chinese take-out.)

I was told by another person at the town hall meeting that Rep. Price's staff were still telling callers as late as this morning that he would not do any town hall meetings this month. Obviously, that was untrue, and SEANC (the State Employees union) was promoting this event to their members even as Rep. Price's staff was trying to keep it a secret from other people.

When news of it finally leaked, "Organizing For America" ( started promoting it too, here:

I've never seen congressmen work so hard to hide from their constituents, even to the extent of having their staff lie to callers about their events. (Was it a lie? I say yes. It was certainly deliberate deception. But apparently one of his staffers defended the claim to someone by saying that they were just talking about town hall meetings which Rep. Price hosted, and this one was hosted by SEANC -- as if that mattered.)

The organizers apparently anticipated that most people wanting to speak would, nevertheless, be opponents. So, to avoid having opponents dominate the public questions & comments, they had two floor microphones, one on each aisle. One mic was labeled "pro" and the other was labeled "con." The moderator alternated between them. Questioners were limited to 1.5 minutes each, and I think that fewer than a dozen questions were taken.

It appeared to me that about 2/3 of those who got in were supporters of "Obamacare," most of them probably SEANC members, and they cheered loudly for Rep. Price, many times. But about 2/3 of those who wanted to speak were opponents.

I've never seen a line form so quickly for a floor mic. I got there an hour early, and I sat one row in front of the "con" mic, on the end, just 2 or 3 feet from the mic, so that I could get a chance to speak, but it was to no avail. When they finally announced they were ready to take questions, I quickly stood up and pivoted around, but I was too late. There were a half dozen other opponents with quicker reflexes already in line. By the time I got past them there were a hundred. I ended up standing in line in the back of the auditorium for the entire event. The line never moved.

One of the other opponents stuck in the line was Triangle Right To Life President Dorothy Yeung. She wanted to ask Rep. Price about the plan's abortion coverage. Unfortunately, she didn't get to ask her question.

One humorous moment came when a sneaky opponent got to the front of the "pro" line, and said the proposed bills would result in a single-payer healthcare system. Many of the supporters cheered! They apparently didn't realize the guy was speaking against Obamacare. I guess they didn't know that Obama now calls people liars when they say his plan will eventually result in a single-payer (government monopoly) system.

Their confusion was understandable, however, since Obama used to say he supported single-payer, and as recently as 2007 he said that his healthcare reform would "transition" to a single-payer system over 10-20 years.

Emotions (and the room) were hot. Unfortunately, I saw some boorish behavior -- more of it, I'm ashamed to admit, by my fellow opponents than by supporters -- but I saw no violence. However, I understand that in the balcony one of the Obamacare supporters punched a (presumably loud) opponent in the face.

Also unfortunately, I heard some rather transparent prevarication by Rep. Price. For instance, he both assured the audience that everyone could keep their existing health insurance if they wished to do so, and also told them that under this legislation all approved health insurance plans would have to cover preventive care from first dollar -- which (obviously) most existing plans don't do.

This plan would effectively abolish the HSA + HDHP-type coverage that I have. Not only would it mandate first dollar coverage of preventive care, which is incompatible with HDHPs, it would also mandate that insurance pay at least 70% of all health expenses (for the whole subscriber pool), which is also incompatible with HDHPs. (The leading Senate plan is even worse -- it requires 76%.)

Note that if they include a "grandfather clause," to permit people to keep their existing plans (while forbidding additional people from getting those plans), as seems likely, it will be strictly for political cover. No health insurance can remain viable without a steady influx of new subscribers. Even with a grandfather clause, mandates like these (payment of aggregate >= 70% of medical expenditures, or coverage for routine preventive care) will certainly abolish any grandfathered-in non-conforming plans (such as HDHPs) in short order.

bro Dave