Local Talk News

Health Reform Shout Out At Congressman's Office

Local Talk News — Wednesday, August 5, 2009

By Walter Elliott

NEWARK: July 23 Noon: Backers and opponents of President Barack Obama's National Public Option Health Insurance Plan shouted at each other before U.S. Senator Robert Menendez's office here.

About 19 people, representing four medical or health advocacy groups including New Jersey Citizen Action and the American Medical Student Association — University Hospital Chapter — came to hear Menendez's latest statement supporting the Obama plan.

The press conference at West Raymond Plaza was beginning, however, when 16 counter-demonstrators, mostly members of the Morristown Tea Party, arrived.

Both sides spent the next 30 minutes vying for passersby and camera operators' attention. A Menendez aide, despite several interruptions, managed to read the Congressman's statement. A Newark Police Officer appeared to keep the more boisterous demonstrators at bay.

The passion and argumentation may have dissipated in light of the scheduled July 3 1 Congressional summer recess. There are three insurance plan drafts — two versions by Democrats in the House and Senate plus a third by Republicans — were in circulation.

"I doubt any of them will be voted on before the recess," said Cong. Albio Sires (D-13th District, including part of Newark.). "It may be best to have everyone review the bills in September."

Sires spoke while attending Gov. Jon Corzine's July 27. signing of the state economic stimulus package at Newark Penn Station. NJCA and various Organizing for America groups had been pushing for a "Pass Health Reform Now" call-in campaign July 28.

Congressional Democratic factions have meanwhile agreed July 29 to have a third committee debate the bills next month for a full House vote in September.

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