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Members Get a Final Blast From Their Constituents

Heading into the final weekend in their districts before returning to the Capitol next week, Members continued the discussion about health care reform with their constituents on Thursday. In New Mexico, freshman Democratic Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Ben Ray Luján met with constituents separately, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Udall held a town hall meeting in Tucumcari and reiterated his support for the public insurance option. Luján set aside a two-hour block of time to meet with constituents one-on-one for five minutes at a time at his Rio Rancho office.Rep. Kendrick Meek (Fla.), a four-term Democrat who’s running for the Senate in 2010, held the only Miami-area public town hall during this recess on Thursday night, the Miami Herald reported. Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, Meek’s likely opponent in the Senate race, appointed George LeMieux to finish the term of retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez when he steps down next week. Meek voted for the Democrats’ health care reform proposal in the Ways and Means Committee and didn’t back away from his support for the public option.“If you’re against a public option you’re basically saying you want to do nothing about the cost of insurance because they are never going to stop gouging Florida consumers,— he told an audience of less than 500 at Miami Dade College’s North Campus.Rhode Island Rep. James Langevin (D) took questions at a town hall in Westerly on Thursday afternoon, according to the Day in New London, Conn. A quadriplegic since age 16, Langevin drew on his own experiences with the health care system when talking to about 250 people. He conceded that he has concerns about the cost of the health care plan but said it would be funded before it was passed. He said that he has read the entire bill and would read the final version before voting on it. On the West Coast, Democratic Rep. Lois Capps, a former nurse, sat on a panel with an emergency room doctor and the director of the Area Agency on Aging at a forum in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Tribune News in San Luis Obispo reported that she maintained that Medicare would improve under the new health care proposal, but a group of 40 to 50 people who apparently disagreed walked out about an hour into the meeting. About three hours north, another veteran Democrat, Rep. Anna Eshoo, faced about 200 locals in Ben Lomond, Calif., according to the San Jose Mercury News. The nine-term Congresswoman voted for the health care reform bill in the Ways an Means Committee on July 31. “I believe in competition, and a major reason for setting forth with the public plan is that it will create competition with the private sector in order to bring the prices down,— Eshoo said. “People will want to move to the public option if the private companies don’t do what it is doing and many people won’t. They may want to keep it and if no one enrolls in it, then it won’t exist. I do I believe everyone deserves to have insurance, you bet I do. We’re being very careful in the construct of this. I don’t believe a public option will fail.—

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