KIMBALL, Tenn. — U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., sat quietly for almost two hours Monday morning as a firing line of concerned, angered and scared constituents stood up and sounded off on health care reform.
“We are not rabblerousers,” Richard Barger, of Monteagle, Tenn., said in front of a crowd of more than 100 at Kimball Town Hall. “This is unusual for us.”
Mr. Barger was one of dozens of speakers who stood in a line out the door mostly to criticize the health care reform bills being debated in Congress.
“We could have a high school debating team come up with a better bill than this,” Mr. Barger said to loud applause.
The meeting was the next-to-last town hall meeting in a series of seven that Rep. Davis has held throughout Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District.
Monday’s crowd remained largely peaceful during the meeting, occasionally bursting into applause and cheers or the occasional boo. There were a few outbursts, however.
As one man continued well past the three-minute time limit for speakers, a few members of the audience began shouting, “Time!”
“Where’s your manners?” a woman in the audience replied.
Mr. Barger was one of several speakers who expressed concern about a provision of the bill that he said would allow the federal government elective access to personal bank accounts.
According to PolitiFact.org, a fact-checking Web site run by the St. Petersburg Times, the provision of the bill Mr. Barger and others mentioned refers to transactions between insurance companies and health care providers.
A handful of speakers, such as Richard Abston, of Dunlap, Tenn., argued in favor of health care reform.
“Something’s got to change,” Mr. Abston said.
He said he does not currently have insurance because he is unemployed. When he did have insurance, Mr. Abston said he and his wife paid $120 per week and had a $1,000 deductible.
“We would we have lost our home and everything we had” if faced with one major illness, he said.
Glenna McCroskey, of Manchester, Tenn., spoke out about another concern of those who argued against the health care reform bills at the meeting, asking how the government could take funds from Medicare “and give to illegals or people who don’t want health care.”
“I just wonder how you can do more with less money,” she said.
According to PolitiFact, there is no health care for illegal immigrants component to the bill but, under the House bill, everyone is required to have some kind of insurance or pay a tax.
To help pay for some of the health care plan, there have been proposals to reduce or eliminate some Medicare spending, which could affect some Medicare recipients.
After hearing the long string of questions, Rep. Davis responded with some assertions of positions he has made clear at previous meetings. He said he would vote against the bill if it included funding for care for illegal immigrants or abortions.
“The way the bill stands today, I will not vote for it,” he said.
Rep. Davis also responded to one person’s suggestion that he voted more than 90 percent with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. He said most of those votes were “procedural votes.”
“I’m right in the dead-dog center,” he said.