GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — President Obama spent Saturday afternoon taking questions from Coloradans at a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, outlining his plan for health reform, the role of insurance companies and how to pay for the plan. Citizens came from all over the state and country to attend, or just make their voices heard outside the meeting.
Among those was Israel Garcia of Denver, who lost his mother to Hepatitis C in 2005. He says his mother didn’t have access to health coverage at the time.
“If my mother had had access to health care, she would probably still be with us to this day, and the fact that she’s not only speaks to the further failure of our health care system and why we need change now,” Garcia said.
Garcia was part of a crowd of about a thousand showing their support for the President’s health care plan outside the meeting. Opponents of the plan held a rally earlier in the day. Reports of attendance ranged from 1,000 to 4,000 people. A few hundred reform opponents remained to protest outside the meeting.
Inside the meeting at Central High, President Obama took questions from a mixed crowd of supporters and critics, including CU-Boulder student Zach Lane.
“How in the world can a private corporation providing insurance compete with an entity that does not have to worry about making a profit, does not have to pay local property taxes and they’re not subject to local regulations. How can a company compete with that?”
The President responded that a government-sponsored option would be forced to compete on the open market with private companies, and adjustments would be made to ensure fairness.
Steve Fenberg, executive director of youth organizing group New Era Colorado, was also outside the meeting. He says the event was more civil than others in recent weeks — something he credits to the attitudes of people here and what he sees as growing grassroots support among Coloradans for reform.
“They realize that our system’s broken — it’s gone on too long and something needs to happen.”
Jane Feustel of Colorado Progressive Action was there. She says while there were plenty of offensive and derogatory signs among the opposition crowd, the goal of her group of supporters was to stay above the fray.
“And we’ve really responded in such a positive way back to these people — saying ‘No, we’re not going to be silenced. We want health care reform, we want it now.’ “
— Colorado News Connection