Grants Pass crowd gets angry about health care

GRANTS PASS — U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio ran into a buzzsaw of fear and misinformation about federal health care reform proposals Wednesday on his first day of town hall meetings during the Congressional recess.

At a stop in Grants Pass, the Springfield Democrat repeatedly had to call for quiet and correct people on what the proposed legislation actually says regarding end-of-life care, illegal aliens and other issues.

DeFazio noted that the bill before the House has Medicare pay for the elderly to talk to their doctor about what kind of care they want at the end of their lives. He characterized fears that it would promote euthanasia as “phony arguments.”

He added that the current bill notes in two places that illegal aliens will not be covered — a fear raised numerous times.

Despite DeFazio's assurances to the contrary, one man repeatedly said he was convinced that Medicare would not pay for a new pacemaker to keep him alive after he turns 80.

“It was hot,” DeFazio said afterward of the meeting atmosphere. “I think there was general consensus that there are problems with the insurance system and people want to see those things fixed. They are worried we will go too far and make things worse instead of better, and I think that is a legitimate concern.”

He told the crowd several times that the proposals continue to change, and he has yet to decide how he will vote.

Joyce McGuffin of Grants Pass stood up in the meeting and said, “We have been pretty rude.

“I hope you get the right message and take it back to Washington. We are not terrorists. We are for reform. But we do not want the government controlling our health care.”

Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson said extra deputies and police were on hand, and that the fire marshal let in only 152 people before the room's capacity was met.

Outside, more than 100 people held signs in support and opposition to health care reform, and chanted slogans.

Inside, several people voiced support for expanding health care coverage, and a few came up to DeFazio afterward to thank him for facing a hostile crowd.

The Grants Pass stop was the third of the day and one of 14 DeFazio has scheduled over the next week in his southwestern Oregon district.

Share This Story