Moran, Howard Dean Prevail in Town Hall Scrum With Hecklers

morantownhall92612 ‘Myths’ of Health Care Plan Dispelled

Twelve major “myths” circulated by opponents of health care reform were systematically dispelled, and a strong case for the “public option” made, by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran and former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean in front of over 2,500 rowdy citizens and national TV cameras at a town hall meeting in Herndon Tuesday night.

The gymnasium at South Lakes High School was jammed fuller than it had ever been when Grant Hill used to play there, and there were hundreds more outside, unable to get in because of the fire marshal’s restrictions.

Moran, whose 38th District of Virginia includes the City of Falls Church, and Dean used their microphones and booming voices to drown out the yells and catcalls of opponents of health care reform for over two hours, and prevailed with strong arguments in favor of the so-called “public option” component of reform.

Moran made the opening remarks, which took longer than expected due to the constants efforts by hundreds in the audience to shout and boo him down, yelling things like, “Liar, liar!” and “Despot!”

Moran followed with factual responses to 12 so-called “myths” (a polite term) and then Dean spoke briefly. Written questions were lifted from three boxes, one in favor of reform, one opposed and one undecided. The persons submitting the questions were then invited to ask their question with a portable microphone.

At one point in his opening remarks, Moran stopped in mid-sentence when something was yelled at him from near the front of the podium. He said, “Maam, really! Sometimes it says more about ourselves than the issues when there is nothing but constant carping.”

But unlike some other disruptive town halls convened by congressmen across the U.S. during this month’s congressional recess, this one was also heavily attended by supporters of health care reform. They’d been mobilized to pack the meeting and counter the hecklers opposing reform, and they succeeded in neutralizing them in the midst of a virtually constant roar, with their cheers and applause, the cascading hoots and catcalls.

The loudest yelling came when the issue of the “public option” was first raised, and again when Dean stated the “public option” was not “socialist.”

But in fact, Dean quieted the entire crowd more than at any other moment when, after a questioner denounced Medicare mismanagement, when he asked, “All who favor getting rid of Medicare, raise your hand!” The crowd briefly went silent.

The “public option” Moran and Dean maintained, involves essentially extending Medicare to the entire population. It would be voluntary, persons happy with their current health coverage could continue it, and it would involve the patients’ choice of physicians.

But it would bring costs down considerably, as private health care providers would have to compete with the more efficient operation of a public option that would, among other things, spend less on administrative overhead.

The high cost of administrative overhead, Moran noted, is currently due largely to the efforts of for-profit insurance companies to decide who and what they will cover, and who and what they won’t.

Too many private for-profit companies maximize profits for their shareholders by denying coverage to persons with pre-existing conditions and throwing people off their plans who develop certain diseases, they noted.

Under this reform, no one could be denied coverage, and the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients, among many other things, would go down. No one would have to worry that losing a job would cause them to lose health coverage.

There are no “death panels,” no rationing of care, no forcing onto a public plan, and no drop in Medicare reimbursements. Right now, denial of care is an unrestrained option of private insurance companies. “In the current system, it’s the insurance companies who hold the power,” Moran said. “That is what will change.”

C-SPAN carried the event live, as did CNN on its website.