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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Guest Blog: Grassroots Taos Town Hall for Health Care Draws 140+

This is a guest blog by Bonnie Korman, a longtime resident of Taos who has worked in the social services field and been politically active on and off throughout her lifetime.

This past Saturday, August 29, Taos activists held a Health Care Town Hall, under the umbrella of the Taos Democratic Party and the Taos Health Action Committee (THAC), a local spin-off of Organizing for America (OFA). All three of our delegation, Sen. Bingaman, Sen. Udall and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, were ultimately represented, not without our persistence, and some prodding in the form of many phone calls.

Knowledgeable staffers of Bingaman gave the senator's case for his many years of support of quality health coverage, but did state that he would NOT refuse to vote for a bill lacking a strong government managed program, or 'public option'. Our group's conclusion is the same as stated on this blog and elsewhere, that we must continue to focus our efforts to encourage Sen. Bingaman to take the lead on this, not just give us lip service.

Rep. Lujan was in Taos that morning speaking with constituents for five-minute sessions, scheduled beforehand with his office. The Congressman did eventually visit the almost three-hour-long Health Care event for about 30 minutes, speaking of his sponsorship of the 'Medicare for All' bill and reassuring the crowd he fully supports the public option.

Rep. Lujan is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but has not formally pledged to REFUSE to vote for a bill lacking a 'public option'. He feels we should trust him on this issue. He told one of the five-minute interviewers that he is wary of citizen organized town halls, and that he would hold one of his own in Taos in September. A New Mexico legislator from Taos, Rep. Roberto Gonzales, offered to help arrange that forum.

We had a very successful turnout -- 140 people on a summer Saturday -- and a good, open discussion of the issues with an informed, prepared crowd. Many brought questions and these were taped onto the walls around the room, grouped by topic. Several local health care providers offered experienced comments and questions for the staffers and Rep. Lujan.

THAC has also been a strong presence with this issue on the local progressive radio call-in program, Jim Ball, 1340 AM, KVOT. You can reach them at taos.health.action.network@gmail.com or spoon@kitcarson.net.

This is a guest blog by Bonnie Korman, a longtime resident of Taos. The day after John Kerry conceded the election of '04, she and a friend started a progressive grassroots group in Taos that works on local, state, and national issues, including voting reform.

To submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

September 2, 2009 at 11:21 AM in Democratic Party, Events, Guest Blogger, Healthcare, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Health Care Reform, Organizing for America, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Taos | Permalink