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Bipartisan Group of Members Hosts Health Care Town Hall in Philadelphia

With just one week left before they return to Capitol Hill, Members of Congress continued to gauge constituents’ concerns on health care reform Monday.

In Philadelphia a bipartisan group of six Members and a candidate discussed the Democrats’ proposal for health care reform with constituents, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Democratic Reps. Joe Sestak (Pa.), Chaka Fattah (Pa.), John Adler (N.J.) and Robert Brady (Pa.) joined Republican Reps. Mike Castle (Del.) and Jim Gerlach (Pa.). Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is running for Senate in 2010, was also there.

Fattah defended the public insurance option.

“People say the public option is a government takeover of health care — that’s nonsense, it’s a lie,— he told the audience.

In Georgia on Monday, Rep. Phil Gingrey, co-chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus, assured a friendly crowd that he will continue to oppose the Democrats’ health care reform proposal, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gingrey voted against the bill as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Gingrey, an obstetrician who graduated from the Medical College of Georgia, has become a prominent critic of the bill. Appealing to older members of the audience, he warned that Medicare benefits could be cut back under the bill.

“This is going to literally gut Medicare Advantage,— he said.

In Springfield, Mo., Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) met with an unusually hostile crowd, according to the Springfield News-Leader. She noted that she was being booed as she was being introduced and that the rancor didn’t ebb once she started talking. The first-term Senator assured her constituents that she would not vote in lockstep with her party but would vote with the interests of Missourians in mind.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) also met with Missourians earlier in the day on Monday. Along with Missouri Sen. Kit Bond (R), they held a closed town-hall meeting at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, the Kansas City Star reported. About 100 medical practitioners and small business owners attended the invitation-only town hall. The Republican Senators emphasized that they want bipartisan negotiations on health care reform.

“There’s dissatisfaction. There’s raucous town-hall meetings,— McCain said. “Maybe then the message will be gotten by the Democrats and the president that maybe we ought to really sit down and have true negotiations this time.—

McConnell and McCain will join Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for a meeting with North Carolinians in Charlotte on Tuesday morning.

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