Colorado’s Congress members talk health care
August 5, 2009
KEYSTONE, Colo. – Colorado’s Congress members are fanning out this month to hospitals, grocery stores and ski resorts to talk health care as sweeping overhauls loom in Washington.
“I want to see what’s on your minds,” said Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, who met Wednesday with about two dozen ski-industry employees and business owners in Keystone.
Wearing a short-sleeved golf shirt and toting a folder of notes, Polis spent about an hour explaining the Democrats’ plan to overhaul health care and extend insurance to some 50 million Americans who don’t have coverage.
There will be plenty of talk about that plan this month in Colorado and elsewhere. Ruling Democrats in Congress have instructed their members to go home and hold town halls, meet-and-greets and rallies to whip up support for their plan.
The GOP is talking health care, too. Colorado’s two Republican members of Congress are planning town halls of their own, while the National Republican Congressional Committee said it is targeting three Democratic House members in centrist districts with health care ads.
“Right now, it’s all health care, all the time,” said Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, who represents Denver’s conservative southern suburbs. Coffman said he’s already gotten “an earful” from constituents opposing the Democratic proposals awaiting consideration in September.
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“August recess represents our best opportunity to talk with folks about this,” Coffman said.
Lawmakers know they need to lay out a strong case this month. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was headed to Denver on Thursday to help with the effort by visiting a Denver health clinic with Polis and Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver.
Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of the Denver suburbs is headed to a King Soopers grocery store this weekend to chat about health care. Aides to another Democrat, Rep. Betsy Markey of Fort Collins, said she is planning health talks at coffee shops in her district.
A Democrat in Western Colorado, Rep. John Salazar, penned a column for a newspaper in his district arguing that health care can be overhauled without adding to the nation’s deficit. But he conceded, “None of this will be easy.”
So far, the Democrats’ talks have not been disrupted by protests.
At the Keystone meeting, even hospital administrators said they were confused about how the overhaul proposals would change health care. Polis said that confusion explains why Congress members are trying to personally explain their side to groups large and small.
“These discussions get a little confusing, and that’s understandable. So that’s why we’re here, to try to explain where we’re going,” Polis said.