Health Scare or Health Care Reform? Inside Susan Davis’ Town Hall Meeting

by on August 12, 2009 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Health, Organizing, San Diego

Last night’s meeting provided a sharp contrast to the event held by Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania .  Ground rules were quickly laid out- no disruptions- and civility was maintained by the hundred plus people in the sweltering room.

Davis, a congresswoman from the 53rd district, presented a brief over view of the current House bill on health care.

•    No proposed changes to VA or TRICARE coverage– programs that provide health care to military
•    Preserve Medicare and close the “donut holes”  (coverage gaps in the prescription program)
•    No health care for illegal immigrants. She actually cited the page number in the document
•    I believe she said that abortion coverage would NOT be required of insurance companies- I promise to get the facts
•    Insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions; plans can’t drop subscribers when serious medical conditions occur
•    Market competition  incentives will be provided to keep prices in check by encouraging more insurance providers
•    A Health Insurance Exchange will be created to compare plans, their premium costs and co-pays
•    Government will NOT select a particular health plan for any individual- completely individual choice
•    There will be some form of public option
•    The anticipated cost is 1.4 Trillion Dollars

What does this mean?  The House bill and Davis’ own efforts are focused on insurance reform.  And here I thought we elected a new president and a whole pile of Democrats because we wanted health care reform.  True health care reform- Universal Coverage/Single Payer is languishing in the House in the form of HR 676.

Davis addressed the cost issue by pointing out the long term savings associated with the bill’s emphasis on wellness, reduction of administrative duplication and sharing technology and information.  Insurance companies will have a 15% cap on “administrative” costs, an extremely generous amount if it is indeed true that administration costs associated with Medicare are only 3%.

Comments and questions from the crowd were noteworthy and comprised the majority of the hour allotted.

•    Single payer remains a goal and a live issue.  A Vet stood up and said he loves his insurance (VA/government) and that the bill must include a strong public option. Another comment was that insurance companies should be eliminated completely from the health care issue.  Davis responded that there weren’t the votes in Congress.
•    Someone asked why there is such intense discussion about the costs associated with health care reform, yet there is little public discussion about the horrendous costs of sending people to war.
•    Davis was asked what she is doing to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  She said she supports the repeal and has been working behind the scenes with mid-level military representatives on implementation strategies.  She did not mention a timeline.
•    Questions about how much would an individual policy cost, or whether hearing aides would be covered in the public option were raised. Specific individual information could not be provided. (here’s a site that provides some details: 
•    One speaker informed the crowd that organic foods, nutritional supplements and farmer’s markets would be eliminated in the bill.  Yes- there were some incoherent, ill-informed sentiments expressed.

It is disappointing that Davis is looking to the States already to make up for whatever ends up lacking in the federal bill.  That’s how we end up with states with widely disparate services which create national social inequalities.  And it is disappointing that so much effort and public monies are going to be expended to reform the insurance industry.  W.C. Fields said “Never try to teach a pig to sing.  It’s a waste of your time and annoys the hell out of the pig.”

I left the meeting room and entered the noisy throng in the streets.  You would never guess from the signs carried by the very small group representing the party of no that what was expressed inside by our representative was pretty ho-hum.  “Black National Socialism is No Utopia.”  “Obama Health Care: Take 2 aspirin and drop dead.”  And of course those posters of Obama as Joker

A woman who attended the meeting and was now sitting at a restaurant table commented that Davis was proposing something that “sounded a lot like communism.”

There seems to be a parallel universe and it is very, very weird.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

bodysurferbob August 12, 2009 at 7:21 pm

much thanks for giving us “the inside scoop”. i was there in line but never got in. the people who wanted reform greatly outnumbered those who didn’t by at least 5 to 1. keep up the good work – i notice you write about the health issues.

also, did anyone notice the average age of the crowd there last night? About 50. It’s a middle age issue, unfortunately. but who in the 20 to 35 year bracket think about health care?


Frank Gormlie August 12, 2009 at 10:06 pm

I also wanted to thank Anna for her contribution. She, Rich, Doug – see his post – Patty and I were all at this event. We came with and saw other friends there.

Doug and I did a head-count on those waiting in line or milling about on the side of the street that appeared to be pro-reform: 470 – and there was another 30 or so across the street. This was at about 6:15. More people arrived after that.

The meeting room had a capacity of 350, or 320, or 390 depending on who you spoke to.

After the meet was over, about 3 or 4 people ran across the street and joined the small contingent that was displaying anti-reform and anti-Obama signs. They had just come out of the gathering with Susan Davis.

Please come on out to Susan Davis’ town hall meet in Spring Valley on Aug 29th.


Molly August 12, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Great report Anna! What a dilemma for progressives: on one hand I don’t like the direction of this health care reform because I want insurance companies out of the business of delivery of health care, I want universal health care – it’s that simple and I’m not seeing it.

On the other hand, Obama is being attacked by the proto-fascists. So I feel I have to defend him (and by extension his policies).

Does anybody else feel this?


annagrace August 12, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Bodysurferbob- I was struck by the demographics too. I couldn’t help comparing yesterday’s turnout to the astounding, broad demographic protests that occurred right after Prop 8 was passed. Thousands of people were mobilized quickly. I suspect this particular town hall meeting and possibly health care reform in general are not tapping into the extensive networking system that the under 40 set routinely uses. And I’m not sure that health care reform has been or can be communicated in the same way that the injustices associated with the passage of Prop 8 were.

Health care reform is the Big One right now and everyone should be getting informed, showing up at all the right places, taking to the streets 20,000 at a time if necessary and making sure that true reform happens.


annagrace August 12, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Molly- single payer isn’t dead if enough of us keep the pressure on. Our president promised us universal health care during his first time. We have a right to hold him to that promise AND trounce the corporate interests and thuggery at every turn. Sheesh. Did you ever think that you’d have to do both?


Molly August 12, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Anna – then you agree it’s a dilemma. And you agree we have to do both. Well, there are no organizations that do that. There is no general agreement within the progressive community on how to do it all.

Individual efforts are swell, but there has to be more on a grander scale. Figure it out and get back to me.


Molly August 12, 2009 at 11:22 pm

WTF is up with yur avatar? It looks like Jerry Garcia superimposed on Che with the Statute of Liberty in the background.


lane tobias August 13, 2009 at 9:01 am

I agree with Molly – there needs to be a grander plan. These town halls are great, especially this one in Hillcrest where you might have thought more disrupters would have shown up….but nothing will really be accomplished if there isn’t a larger effort on our part.

There’s a great article in Rolling Stone with Krugman, Gergen and Michael Moore all outlining their likes and dislikes of Obama’s Presidency so far…theres some great discussion on health care.


Edith Levy August 14, 2009 at 9:21 am

Alas, I missed the town hall meeting in Hillcrest. What time and where will the Aug. 29th meeting be held in Spring Valley?


Frank Gormlie August 14, 2009 at 9:56 am

Rep Susan Davis is having a Town Hall meeting on Sat Aug 29th at 1 to 2 pm at Spring Valley Branch Library at 836 Kempton Street SV.


Abby August 14, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Just thought this would amuse, A right wing group called “The Pray In Jesus Name Project” is sending out emails making crazy claims like:

“Your tax-dollars will pay for preferential hiring of homosexual hospital administrators, who distribute $50,000 grants to gender-confused activists for unneeded elective surgery to mutilate their own genitals, (and force Christian doctors to perform it.)”

I can’t make this stuff up!


doug porter August 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm

be sure to click on the link referenced by abby. this is sicko crap.


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