On the Front Lines of Health Insurance Reform

image216091368.jpgWe’re on the shuttle bus back to the Park n Ride after President Obama’s town hall meeting in Portsmouth. We didn’t have tickets and thought our participation would be limited to the street demonstrations. At first they were fun, like a football game cheering for our side and so did the other team. But as the time for the meeting approached I became discouraged at the rival chants and the temptation to see the folks across the street as deeply Other, especially the guy with a
Poster of the President doctored to make him look like Hitler.

At this point, I had a lucky break. The head of the NH Democrats, Ray BUCKLEY Butler I think, was standing near us. I asked if he had any tickets to the town meeting and he said no, but he pointed to another guy and said “Michael may have some.” I caught up with Michael and told him Ray had suggested I talk to him about tickets. A while later he quietly slipped a pair into my hand, and we headed for the line forming to enter the high school.

We joined 1,800 in a gym and heard an impassioned, sometimes humorous, highly informed talk and Q&A by the health care advocate-in-chief. His confident, energetic performance reminded me of the rally we attended in Golden, Colorado, when I first allowed myself to believe he could win the presidency. Then the topic was the complex, dry and crucial matter of the financial collapse. I noted that he had the audience cheering for securities reform. Huh? And today we cheered for colonoscopies, that insurance companies should be requuired to fund them and other preventive procedures to provide smarter, less costly health care than the current system.

So today is the day I am allowing myself to believe there will be sensible health insurance reform by the end of the year. Reform won the mainly good-natured battle of the shouted slogans and hoisted signs – supporters outnumbered opponents by roughly five to one by my count. But the real win was in the gym. Two opponents sitting behind us never stood for the ovations. I interviewed them for my Audio Pod Chronicles podcast. The younger of the two said he was surprised at how informed Obama was and that he made a point of calling on people who were suspicious and opposed to the plan. He’s still an opponent of the public option, but he left the gym knowing the President is a formidable proponent of change.

UPDATE: Click here for interview with Ray and Mark.

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