Latest health care reform town hall meeting calmer, more focused

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - State Representative G.A. Hardaway's health care reform town hall meeting Saturday was a vast contrast to past health care town halls.

Security stood out front, no signs were allowed inside and discussions were calm compared to other meetings around the country that have resulted in screaming matches and even arrests.

"They want facts. We've had a lot of misinformation, a lot of debate on fact versus fiction," said Hardaway. "People want the truth so they can make up their minds on what type of delivery system will provide accessible, affordable and adequate health care."

Hardaway hopes the calmer discussion will encourage more people to attend future meetings.

Saturday's panel included a wide range of state, county and city leaders on both sides of the issue, including Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, M.D.; Tennessee Senator Jim Kyle; Rainbow PUSH Vice President Joseph Kyles; and MCS Commissioner Jeff Warren, M.D.

University of Tennessee's Vice Chancellor of Health Affairs and Governmental Relations, Dr. Michael Caudle, was among the panelists. He told attendees this town hall meeting was critical.
"It's providing decent conversations that need to happen," he said.

Tennessee Health Care Reform Campaign spokesperson Emily Fulmer said people need choices.
"There has to be something that if you lose your job, you can afford to pay for it," she said.

"COBRA has got to be reformed for that reason. You need to be able to get insurance if you're sick."

However, Dr. Flinn said TennCare was a test of health care reform that failed.

"In healthcare reform, we're told there will be no tort reform. In other words, frivolous lawsuits will go on," he said.

At the end of the day, meeting attendee Ray Gardocki was not sold on health care reform.

"I'm not opposed to doing something to help people in need, but we need a more direct source. I really don't want the government involved," he said.

But attendee Jackie Flaum is in support of health care reform.

"I'm angry with my senators who seem to think it's okay to just let it go on the way we are," he said.

Hardaway says the health care reform bill should be seen as a working bill, and everyone has a say in how it's written.

Click here for the webcast of the entire health care reform town hall meeting.

(Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)