St. Louis Public Radio News
12:53 am
Thu August 27, 2009

Claire McCaskill holds town hall meeting in Jefferson City

Jefferson City, MO – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill continued her series of health care town hall meetings last night in Jefferson City. And the Missouri Democrat once again faced a crowd that was for the most part less than friendly.

Nearly 400 people crowded into Lewis and Clark Middle School to hear and sometimes jeer McCaskill. She told the audience that doing nothing to America's current health care system is not an option.

"Should it be constitutional for us to deny health care to people?" McCaskill asked. Many loudly answered back, "Yes!"

She then said," I'll tell you what else is not in the constitution: The Medicare program is not in the constitution, Social Security is not in the constitution."

That triggered more shouts from the audience.

At one point, McCaskill told them that they may go down as the most impolite audience she's faced. But she also drew cheers when she said she opposed a single-payer option, as part of Congress' health care overhaul.

McCaskill maintained that doing nothing is not an option.

"It seems to me that we ought to get competition into the system, reform the system for the consumer, so you can't get turned down because you had breast cancer 10 years ago that's in remission, that if you get really sick they don't try to pull the rug out from under you and tell you they're not going to pay for your bills, because they want to take the contract away because you've gotten too expensive," McCaskill said.

McCaskill also drew applause when she said she would vote "no" if the final version of the health care bill covers elective abortions.

But much of the audience remained skeptical of McCaskill's intentions when the town hall meeting ended. Tim Harmon is an unemployed school teacher from Jefferson City.

"Our country is taking a socialist turn with this health care reform (and) cap and trade...I'm just afraid that if we don't get this straightened out and we don't get this socialist agenda changed, capitalism and democracy as we know it is going to disappear," Harmon said.