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Our previous coverage of the Warrensburg health care reform town hall on Wednesday morning:

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) – health care town hall – Warrensburg

The press conference was held immediately after the town hall:

….Question: You were very harsh on the Bush administration and Republicans in general in this town hall session. And of the four I’ve heard this is probably some of the most partisan remarks you made about the, the fiscal condition of federal government after the Bush presidency and the Republican majority. Is that any way to get things done?

Senator Claire McCaskill: No, I, I did in this one which I did in Kansas City. I talked about Medicare D. And how Medicare D was passed and how many of the things that are embraced by Medicare D should be very troubling to people who are opposing this health care reform. And I may have mentioned that that happened under that administration, but in every time I’ve mentioned it I’ve said it happened, you know, under the last administration. So, I’ve talked about Medicare D specifically and I think generally that has been the only time I’ve talked in any way partisan and also talkin’ about the amendment process.  [crosstalk] I talked about that]…

Question: No, no, you were much more spicey today than I’ve [crosstalk]…

Senator McCaskill: You just missed me.

Question: Huh.

Senator McCaskill: I, I [crosstalk]…

Question: No, you know, I was there. I’ve heard Hannibal, I’ve heard Moberly, you did, you weren’t ripping them they way you were today.

Senator McCaskill: I don’t think I ripped anything. I talked about the, the amendment process and how many Republican amendments were offered and accepted. And the fact that none of them voted for it. But, this, you know, and I also talked about the last ten years today. I didn’t just talk about the last eight, I talked about the last ten. We have a deficit problem in this country that didn’t happen yesterday. It happened over a long period of time. It, it doesn’t help to point fingers, it doesn’t help to get wildly partisan, but I think it’s important for Americans to remember that it’s a long, it was a long time in coming that we got here and we’ve got to be more disciplined and move forward. But it is frustrating for me when I have watched Republican members of, of the Senate spend like there’s no tomorrow and all of a sudden they’re trying to whitewash themselves with this – I’m a fiscal conservative. And it’s frustrating and, and there are times that that feeling comes out. Maybe it came out a little bit too much today.

Question: You talked about fear and how people are afraid. And how does fear play into this health car system, the health care plan?

Senator McCaskill: Well, I think people are afraid they’re gonna lose their coverage and if they can’t afford their coverage, but they’re also afraid of the unknown. It’s like that old saying that the devil you know was devil than the devil you don’t know. And I think that what happened, the President wanted these bills to be grown organically in Congress. He wanted Congress to grow them and try to reach compromises. He didn’t start with, “This is my way, or the highway.” And when he did that it created a vacuum. And a lot of misinformation filled that vacuum. The, the opponents got out there with facts that were wildly off the mark, that were just big old whopper lies that were being told. So I think to some extent those who want and need reform were on defense for a little bit. I think now that, that tide has turned again. This is the second health care town hall in a row I’ve had where clearly the people who want reform outnumbered those who didn’t.

Question: Why do you,  why do you think that is? Is that, say, go back and compare with Hillsboro, that, is there a fatigue here? Is there fear fatigue or, I mean, are people just getting tired of, of yelling at, at lawmakers?

Senator McCaskill:  I think, by and large, most Missourians are pretty well mannered. I think, by and large, the proponents of health care reform had been sitting on the sidelines. And then all of a sudden, you know, because it was raucous and conflict and the last time I looked you guys liked that stuff, it got a lot of coverage because it was good visuals and it was different and it was big crowds. So all of a sudden everybody sittin’ at home who wanted health care reform go wait a minute, we, we want health care reform. And I think they’ve woken up now. I think they’re showing up. I think they’re getting more engaged. And I think it, it, I will be surprised if we don’t continue to see, I think there’ll be town halls that’ll be pretty rough, depending on where we are. But, it was interesting to me here in Warrensburg, I wasn’t shocked in Kansas City where you have a, it’s generally a more Democratic area of the state. But, today was, I thought was interesting that, that the proponents outweighed the opponents [crosstalk] [inaudible]…

Question: Well, it seemed more fifty fifty.

[Note: In my observation of the entire event I believe Senator McCaskill’s characterization of the makeup of the crowd was more accurate than the Kansas City television reporter’s.]

Staffer: Senator, [inaudible] take questions from a print reporter as well?

Senator McCaskill:  Yeah.

Question: Okay, I just was wondering whether you felt that the, that any minds are being changed at these forums. Now, you’re talking about people who are coming in with, I think they’ve already got a mindset. But, you feel the forums are doing anything to change minds?

Senator McCaskill:  I don’t know how many minds, I think the vast majority of people who come to these have, feel very strongly one way or the other. I don’t think these are a forum where a lot of undecided voters come. There may be a few. But it’s, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do ’em, because I think I owe the people of the state an opportunity to come out, ask questions, make comments,. I think I need to be respectful of them. So, just because people have already made up their minds I don’t think that’s any excuse not to have these town hall forums all over the state which we have done and will continue to do.

Question: So when you go back to Washington then, knowing that not a lot of minds have been changed coming out here I would guess, and I would think the same in terms of the Senate and the House, what do you think the odds are of actually getting health care legislation passed this year?

Senator McCaskill: I think something will get passed. I think it remains to see, be seen what the details will be. I think there is broad based support for some parts of this health care reform agenda. And I’m confident that some of that will get done. I think what remains to be seen is what, whether or not we get any kind of public option or a, a government sponsored co-op, or not for profit that is part of the equation. That is really one of the most controversial parts of the bill and I think it’s too early to tell yet how that will turn out.

Question: Senator, you’ve been holding several of these forums across the state now. When you do go back to Washington what is the main thing that you’re going to take away, or take back with you? Is there, you know, a specific issue or concern that you’ve heard voiced several times that, you know, just kind of at this stage what you’re taking back?

Senator McCaskill: Well one of the things I’m gonna do, I really am gonna start working on a broad based effort to change the way we write bills so that they’re more easily understood. That’s a really legitimate and valid criticism. People who want to read the bills ought to be
able to understand what they’re reading. And, you know, I, I certainly have learned a lot from doctors. I learned at Children’s Mercy a lot yesterday. I ,I’ve got three or four meetings with doctor’s groups tomorrow. And nurses, I’ve talked to a lot of nurse practitioners about their frustrations. So, you know, these, this is, this, I’m getting good information about where the problems are now and possibly where some of the solutions are. So, it, it’s definitely helpful. Definitely helpful. And I also understand how strongly some people feel about this on both sides. ‘Kay? All right?

Staffer: Thanks everyone….

[Note: Another reporter asked a question and Senator McCaskill stayed to answer.]

Question: ….the, the tide, tide’s turning at some of these?

Senator McCaskill: I don’t know that the tide is turning. It’s not a tide so much. It’s that it appears to me that a lot of people who felt strongly in favor of health care reform had the attitude at the beginning of this process, “Well we won the election, we control the Senate and the House, this is gonna happen.” And then they realized that there was really strong, strident opposition that [crosstalk] was going to work very hard…

Question: Were they complacent in your mind?

Senator McCaskill: I, I think they may have been more laid back. I don’t think complacent is a word I’d use. I, they just weren’t, they weren’t on the edge of their couch and worried about trying to help and make their opinions shown. We’ve seen a shift in our mail, we’ve seen a little bit of a shift in our phone calls, and we, I’ve seen a little bit of shift in, in the tenor of these meetings. I don’t, they’re not as many people that are willing to interrupt and be rude as there were a week and a half ago…