Baron Hill Town Hall in Bloomington

A few notes from Baron Hill’s health care forum/town hall in Bloomington this evening:

  • Baron Hill and Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan entered to a remarkably loud round of applause. Kruzan gave Baron a pretty good intro, and tried to emphasize the need for civility.
  • Both times a single-payer/Medicare-for-all system was mentioned, loud rounds of applause broke out. (Nothing like that for a public option.)
  • Dr. Rob Stone, head of single-payer advocates Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, received a big round of applause when Baron called on him for a question.
  • In response to Dr. Stone’s question, Baron said that the public option has “about a 50/50 chance” of surviving.
  • A small business owner, frustrated with the increasing costs of healthcare, offered to cut an extra $1000 check for taxes on the spot, if Baron could guarantee a public health plan. He was rewarded with a standing ovation.
  • A woman shared a heartbreaking story about her parents divorcing when she was young so that her mom could qualify for Medicaid and her family could avoid inevitable bankruptcy. She was booed.
  • There was a moderate amount of shouting and booing throughout, but not the kind of really wholesale disruptiveness that the TV stations seem to love.
  • Baron started by trying to dispel some myths, quoting from T.R. Reid’s piece in the Washington Post – “5 Myths About Health Care Around the World”. This didn’t stop people from talking and asking about these debunked insurance-issued talking points.
  • A majority of the questions and comments revolved around cost. I thought Baron did a pretty decent job talking about the projected savings from cutting waste and inefficiency, and the need to supplement that with taxes on the extremely wealthy. Despite his repeated answers, the same questions just kept popping up.
  • Baron revealed that he’s not on the Congressional health plan, but on his wife’s plan. However, when his wife retires soon, they have to make some tough decisions. He wants to make a choice on the proposed Exchange.
  • Baron repeatedly sought out questions from those who oppose reform, and made fun of the conspiracy theorists at Hoosier Access when he called on someone wearing a green shirt.
  • So, while there was nothing quite as entertaining as the chants of “Where’s Evan Bayh?” from Monday’s OFA rally at IUPUI, it was a pretty worthwhile evening of politics. I’ll link to videos if anyone captured the stream from UStream (no video was allowed inside.)

Phew. What did I miss?

You can read the live stream by searching for the #barontownhall hastag on Twitter – it’s just me and the Monroe County Democratic Party.

You can follow me on Twitter – @bmk