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Lawmakers Continue to Face Crowds at Home

As President Barack Obama prepared to address a joint session of Congress next week, Members continued to swap opinions with their audiences at health care forums on Wednesday.

House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) faced about 500 people in Sumter, S.C., according to the Herald in Rock Hill. Asked about including tort reform in the bill, Spratt said he has discussed the issue with his two daughters, who are both doctors.

“I think it would be one way of saying we’re serious about cost containment,— he concluded. Spratt will meet with more constituents at York Technical College in Rock Hill on Thursday afternoon.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) defended his vote in favor of health care reform in the Ways and Means Committee earlier this summer before a crowd of about 1,400 people at a rowdy town hall in Louisville, according to the Associated Press. The second-term Congressman went so far as to say he’s willing to lose his seat over his support for universal health care.

“If I end up casting a vote that costs me my job, and I think I’m doing the right thing for most American families, then that’s a badge of honor I’ll wear for a long time,— he told reporters afterward. Yarmuth narrowly defeated incumbent Rep. Anne Northup (R) in 2006 and defeated her more easily in the 2008 rematch.

About an hour and a half’s drive northeast in Edgewood, Ky., Republican Reps. Geoff Davis (Ky.) and Tom Price (Ga.) disagreed with Yarmuth. They met with health care providers at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, and Price, a former orthopedic surgeon and a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, emphasized his opposition to a complete overhaul of the current health care system.

“The last thing we ought to do … is to take the whole system and turn it on its head,— Price said. “What we have heard across this land over the last four or five weeks is that people do not trust the federal government to run the very particulars of the health care system.—

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) also argued against a large-scale health care system overhaul in a town hall in Richmond, Ind., the Richmond Palladium-Item reported.

“The proposal that is moving through Congress right now, which would address the rising cost of health care, the rising cost of health insurance, by creating a government insurance plan to complete with the private sector, is not the answer in my opinion,— Pence said.

Yet second-term Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) promoted health care reform at an AARP forum, the Garden Island in Kauai wrote.

“Government has a very positive role to play,— she said, reiterating her support for a public insurance option. She told them the Democrats’ proposal would lower the cost of health care and improve the quality of care.

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