By Susan Bowman
Special to the Berthoud Recorder
I attended a town hall meeting with Betsy Markey on Tuesday (Aug. 19). It was held in the Lory Student Center on the CSU campus between 9 and noon. I ran a little late because I stopped a few people to ask them if they had questions for Congresswoman Markey. Only two did, “Where is the money coming from?” from a woman who teaches her kids to live debt-free and “Will she have evening town hall meetings so working people can attend?” I went with prejudice against the healthcare bill and doubts about the government’s competence.
I arrived slightly late with my school badge on and was mistaken for press. They ushered me into the first session. Congresswoman Markey had almost finished listening to one side of the room’s questions and asked me if I had a question. I didn’t realize she was talking to me and she had to repeat herself several times. Her format was to listen to the questions of 15 to 20 people and to try to answer. She was very diligent about listening to everyone.
The questions were about 85 percent doubtful in my session. Most people politely thanked her for her time then asked their questions. One talked about the failings of this administration with doubts that they should try anything so huge. Another wanted to know where the constitution gives the federal government the right to interfere in healthcare. A nurse was disappointed that payment for end of life counseling sessions was dropped.
Someone else asked, “What is the goal, cost savings or universal coverage because they are mutually exclusive?” One man asked, “Where are they getting $500 billion in Medicare cuts?” I wanted to know why so many appointees in the bill are exempt from judicial review. A common question was “How can we pay for this?” One of the last questions was “What will happen if we do nothing?” That question Congresswoman Markey answered. It allowed her to use talking points for the rest of the time.
She spoke about Medicare, a government program, going bankrupt in 2017. She criticized the House bill and said she would have voted against it. She spoke about coverage not meaning access if doctors won’t accept it. She talked about the Medi-clinics opening in Walmarts but didn’t explain what the government had to do with them. She insisted the public option is necessary. She didn’t change any minds. Nor did hers change
She asked at the end of 30 minutes “What can I do to make this more useful?” The almost unison answer of about half the people was “answer the questions.” Outside participants sought out reporters to complain. Some said the man whose question she answered was a plant. They said he was in the union group that was arguing with them in line. Because I accidentally bypassed the line, I didn’t see that. If her constituents leave the town hall meetings believing only planted questions get answered, Congresswoman Markey does herself no favors.