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Many at Slotkin health care town hall wanted to stay on topic despite protesters

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

A group of anti-impeachment protesters, most from outside the 8th Congressional District, tried to derail Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin's health care town hall meeting on Friday night. 

For the most part, they failed.   

Slotkin urged people to be civil at the beginning of the town hall, and she asked people to write their questions about health care and other issues on cards.  But the protesters flouted the request, and frequently shouted over Slotkin as others shushed them.  

"Shut up," one man shouted at the protesters in frustration.

For the most part, Slotkin was able to quiet the protesters by reminding them that other people in the crowd wanted to hear her answers.   

She took a firmer tone when one protester yelled "Fake news!" in response to a question about a homeless veteran's struggles.

"Ma'am, talking about veteran homelessness, veteran suicide, let me tell you, as a veteran family, those are not fake news items," Slotkin chastised the woman. "I am happy to take honest comments about a lot of things. But I am not willing, I am not willing, to have anyone in this room deny what our veterans are going through."

Slotkin, a former CIA analyst, is married to a retired U.S. Army Colonel, and one of her stepdaughters is currently in the Army.

Slotkin received sustained applause and many people rose in a standing ovation at her remarks.

Slotkin later said none of the protesters put their questions about impeachment on a card. She says she'd have been happy to respond. 

On health care, Slotkin says she does not favor a single payer-style, "Medicare for All" system, because she says it would deprive many people of the right to keep the employer-sponsored health insurance plan they may currently have.

But she does support allowing Medicare to offer health insurance to anyone, regardless of age. She says Medicare has the potential to become the most popular plan in the U.S. health insurance marketplace.

She also supports repealing the law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating drug prices on behalf of those it insures.  

Slotkin warned people that a Texas case currently before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has the potential to end the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) if judges rule it is unconstitutional. 

That would result in about 20 million people losing health insurance, and also end Obamacare's popular protections for people with existing health conditions, as well as guaranteed coverage up to age 26 for young adults under their parents' plans.

Slotkin says one thing she is optimistic about is getting members of Congress, despite a deep partisan divide, to agree on bills that would reduce the cost of prescription drugs.  

Slotkin's bill requiring pharmacies to disclose prices to physicians passed the House last week. She says that would allow physicians to not only prescribe a drug, but counsel patients on the lowest-cost location for purchase.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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