August Town Halls -- Constructive, Not Obstructive Debate

[caption id="attachment_214" align="alignleft" width="208" caption="Congressman Barney Frank"]Congressman Barney Frank[/caption] Faster than D.C.’s humidity, the health reform debate has heated up during this August Congressional recess. Most members are holding town halls in their home states, and as anyone tuned into cable news is aware, some are wishing they were back in D.C. But as Beth O’Connor, Chair of the NRHA Government Affairs Committee and Executive Director of the Virginia Rural Health Association and Virginia Rural Health Resource Center, reported after attending a town hall with her representative, not all of the town halls being held around the country are quite as “obstructed” or “newsworthy” as the major networks would have you believe. This town hall, held in rural Virginia, was mainly attended by people asking constructive questions and listening for constructive answers. So, as we should all probably assume, if not for the simple reason that not every one of these meetings is being covered by CNN, FOX or MSNBC, most town halls around the country are not full of attendees solely intent on derailing any sort of meaningful discussion. Regardless of how many of these town halls are in fact erupting into less of a forum and more of a boxing match, though, it is important that anyone privileged to have even one minute of direct dialogue with your elected representative, or the staff member next to them jotting down notes, uses that one minute constructively to ask real questions about bringing health reform to rural America.  A question or comment about the rural physician workforce shortage, critical access hospitals or Medicare inequities, for instance, will be slightly better received than a diatribe relating Congress to the Nazi party. So please attend a town hall in your area, and when someone, obviously not a NRHA member, mentions the phrase “death squad” or likens the President to Adolf Hitler, your legitimate question will seem like a breath of fresh air. Please visit the NRHA’s health reform website below for suggestions for important questions to ask your representative about the rural health reform debate. http://www.ruralhealthweb.org/go/left/policy-and-advocacy/health-reform

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