A first! Teri Buhl reports on the Himes Town Hall meeting

Teri Buhl, a financial journalist from lower Fairfield County has written for Trader Monthly, Housingwire, The New York Post and DealBreaker. With those credentials (plus having attended Lawrenceville Prep with Jim) she was able to break past the barriers at last night’s sold-out Himes performance and observe. Herewith, her report:

Is Himes in touch with his Greenwich voters on Health Care Reform

By Teri Buhl

Wall Street traders and their wives showed up fully charged to debate health care reform last night in Greenwich. Congressman Jim Himes(CT-4 D) held his first town hall meeting on health care and ran smack into a crowd of nay sayers to Obama’s health care plan. From my seat on the right side of the room (with the rest of the press) the majority of the crowd was against government intervention in health care. Concern over death panels, how much will it cost them, to lack of availability to see the best physicians ran rampant from residents called upon to ask questions.

Greenwich police say they opened the doors at ten till 6pm and the room was filled in less than 20 minutes, leaving constituents who showed up near the meeting’s start time of 6:30 turned away by two armed cops. Police say around 200 people gathered outside while the Himes debate was underway and began their own citizen’s debate on the issue.  The passionate crowed spoke in turn on the town hall steps railing opinions against the public option while the police kept a firm had on some who got in each other’s face- even strong arming one plain clothes man who had earlier showed a NYPD card to get in but was refused entrance.  

Inside the debate was almost as heated.

Jacqueline Walsh who attended with her husband Jerry Walsh, a Wall Street prop trader had done her homework and rattled Himes a bit when she went face to face with him questioning him about death panels. Walsh cheered and jeered throughout the event when fellow citizens detailed researched views on why the public option wouldn’t work and the crowd cheered ‘No more government, the free market can do it better’. She was much more the majority then the minority throughout the room.

When the Walsh’s were asked if Himes was going to represent their views on health care or those of their friends in Greenwich when he returned to congress they said, “Himes claims to be a free market guy, that’s how he made his money, but I don’t think he represents the majority of Greenwich’s view on this issue.” Before Himes made his run for Congress he was a Goldman Sachs banker.

Jacqueline added, “He side stepped a lot of the questions tonight and seemed to call on some he knew would give praise to his cause.”

Jacqueline friend and fellow Greenwich resident, Cheryl Resnick, who attended with her husband Jeff a trader at an international bank, had her hand up at every chance but was unfortunately ignored by the moderator.

Cheryl said, “We got babysitters for this, showed up early to get in and had some important questions but were shut out.”  Cheryl’s questions posted at the end of the story have been sent to Himes and his team said to expect a response.

At the end of the meeting Cheryl, a blond blue-eyed republican, added, “You know I noticed all the people who talked against the public option really did their homework. They have real fears for a reason. “ She also added that even if Himes went gung ho against the public option it wouldn’t make a difference because Obama would just buy the votes to get his Health Care bill done – kind of puts Himes in a tough spot.

Himes did comment half way through the debate about his view re health care lobbying and fund raising corruption. “I simply want to remind you that when offered a pay raise this year I didn’t take it because I saw so many of you not getting them, “ says Himes and then noted “ In this country your ability to raise money is often how we elect congressman – this is a problem.”

When Himes was asked what would he do if congress was forced to the take the public option he responded, “Well first of all no one is going to be forced to TAKE the public option. But, I believe congressman should not benefit any differently than our citizens.” To give Himes credit he listened, looked each person in the eye and didn’t interrupt even when some boldly called him out on not reading legislation he voted on like the 1,200 page Waxman-Markey clean energy bill.

After an hour and half of listening and trying to answer his constituents health care concerns, Himes stepped up to the plate and took another 15 minutes to address the frustrated mob of at least 50 residents remaining outside. Although we found it odd he needed 8 local cops to escort him outside and talk to them.

Questions mounted by attendees walking out of the event regarding why team Himes choose a room that only fits 200 people if they wanted to truly hear all voters voice. Over 400 people tried to get in and that doesn’t even count the ones who walked away when they saw the mob.

When WGCH radio host Tony Savino, who moderated the event, was asked who picked this venue he said, “I thought it was going to be at the Greenwich Hyatt. I don’t know who changed it.”

Liz Kerr, Himes DC spokesman responded, “We never secured the Hyatt.” She didn’t answer why a bigger forum to house more residents wasn’t chosen – like the Greenwich High School?  If you’re game to go face to face with Himes again you find him tomorrow night at the Norwalk High School starting at 6:30. Although I doubt many Greenwichites want to make the trek over there.

Here’s a link to Himes’ press girl asking outside mob if they want info on the Norwalk event – they all yell no – it’s classic.http://www.clipsyndicate.com/video/play/1079334/himes_holds_town_hall_on_health_care

Here is the question posed to Rep. Himes, which he has promised to answer. When (if) he does, we’ll post it here. [Ed]

Cheryl Resnick question for Congressman Himes:
When Massachusetts implemented universal health care Cheryl had a friend who found it impossible to find a good doctor after her regular doctor retired. As a result they had to opt out for a private option paying over $5,000 more so they could get a doctor that look fewer patients and was available when they needed him.
Cheryl asks: If the administration is saying an additional 47 million people will be added to the public option, how will they responsibly handle the inflow of new patients – so what happened in Mass doesn’t happen here. How will the public option participants know they can still get their good doctors if the public option pays the doctor less? Do we have enough quality medical talent to handle an influx of 47 million new patients to the system? 

28 Comments

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28 responses to “A first! Teri Buhl reports on the Himes Town Hall meeting

  1. Riverside Roger

    Whatever about Himes, there’s gotta be a better way of doing things…I had a doctor’s appointment this morning….well known ear, nose and throat guy in Town..I spent 8…..count… 8 minutes with him….an hour in the office answering basic questions..history, etc and waiting…but the EIGHT MINUTES with my guy was charged out at 750 dollars…visit 200+ and the 2 min procedure of him sticking something up my nose..remember TWO minutes…515 dollars….
    There’s gotta be something better than this….gotta be..I left there stunned…

  2. Old School Grump

    Minor league question for CF …

    this isn’t the first time you’ve referred to “Lawrenceville Prep” … is this an insider joke of some sort? I mean, the actual name is “Lawrenceville School,” and I’m sure just plain “Lawrenceville” would work fine for 99.9% of your readership.

    Not to mention, who cares where anyone over 40 went to high school (other than the folks in the Development Department?)

    • christopherfountain

      Old School – I once mistakenly said the guy went to Larenceville and one of his supporters went nuts denying he’d attended a prep skool. I’m with you- who cares? But prep from now on.

  3. concerned

    hey Roger, i hear what ur saying but are you looking for a proposal or just a diagnosis and a fix?

  4. Cos Cobber

    Riverside Roger, sorry to say but sounds like you got hosed. You need to find a new doc. Let the markets be free.

  5. Anonymous

    Very few competent doctors exist at any price, let alone internists, as smartest doctors have subspecialized into more lucrative areas like ENT or retina surgery or derm or intvl cards for past 25+yrs

    As absurd as presuming really smart financiers work as coverage corporate finance investment bankers (glorified concierges or IB equivs of primary care docs); smartest IBers were M&A bankers (akin to aloof surgical subspecialists) back in ’80s and ’90s….and younger versions of those guys are all hedgies today….same dynamics exist for physician subspecialties except really smart guys have become either software engineers or financiers over past 20+yrs….medicine and law have been low on any smart guy’s priorities for ages….perhaps better for the economy….intellectual satisfaction and personal wealth creation rules

  6. Anonymous

    So who is this guy, Roger? Name him, please. You haven’t written anything libelous about him. You’ve just quoted his rates.

    So who is it?

  7. Vineyard Vines

    to anon at 9:32.

    I agree that all doctors aren’t created equal. They perhaps do not spend enough time with their patients trying to figure out ways to come up with optimal patient outcomes.

    smart doesn’t always equal accumulation of wealth. I know former IBer and CF talked about this the other day.

    Just because someone is a math genius doesn’t mean they have to figure out ways to extract all the money they possibly can from ‘the free market’.

    maybe some folks don’t find it interesting to be a M&A banker or “hedgie”. That line of work is not everyone’s cup of tea.

    I know guys that do that kind of work, they are just hustlers. Always scheming and scamming.

    smart people are also in academia and medicine. they just don’t care as much about amassing wealth and living in the choice suburbs and flying around in citation 10s.

  8. pulled up in OG

    This broad’s way funnier than Beth Levin.

  9. Riverside Roger

    Lets just say that I would love a piece of the action at the Medical Building at 49 Lake Ave. The place was bustling with business yesterday in all the offices on the first floor where I was.
    And to think that after sending my kids to “the best schools in the country” they became “hedgies”.

  10. Reader

    Riverside Roger’s complaint will be worsened by Obamacare. Obamacare plans to slash payments to doctors. They will only be able to maintain their incomes by pushing patients thru as quickly as possible. Quality of care has to suffer. Under Obamacare, Riverside Roger will be lucky to get 8 minutes with a doc.

    Riverside Roger like most Americans wants high quality care and low prices. The Obama plan can’t do that. It’s been done in other industries, like computers and retail and cell phones. We need a solution that makes health care run more like the computer industry and less like the DMV. Obamacare takes us in the wrong direction.

  11. Riverside Roger

    and don’t even ask me about another routine surgery by another well-known bone guy at the Greenwich Hyatt that left me visiting their busiest dept (infectious disease unit – i kid you not!) every day for THREE fing months. My insurance company refused to pay the $100,000 in bills. A few conversations with the Hyatt billing dept and an attorney had the hosp recoding the bills and my insurance co paying up….
    We DO need something better..don’t know what but something…

  12. Riverside Roger

    Reader,
    I want quality care at a reasonable price. I dont believe in the a nationalized healthcare system for everyone. I come from a country with just that and right now patients are in beds in corridors. There are 2 levels of healthcare there, public and private. Maybe that’s the answer. One thing I do want at a minimum is the SAME level of care as Jim Hines and other members of Congress.
    Is that too much to ask??

  13. Pete

    Wow Chris – that’s great you got Teri Buhl to report out the Health Care event for you. I loved her work at the New York Post last year – she always broke big stories on bank fruad and hedge funds and gave us great inside details on how the deals got done. Good to know she’s at Dealbreaker now.

    It’s refreshing to hear another voice write on local news events beside the shill we get from Neil V at the Greenwich Time. I thought it was off when they reported that a room full of Greenwich voters were split on the public option. I didn’t get that vibe from my seat on the left side of the room.

    Thanks for finding her and getting this news out there.

  14. Reader

    Riverside Roger-

    I am afraid Obama and Himes are supporting a plan that will make us more like the nation you left.

    It is a fantasy to say that we can add 40 million people to the system while maintaining quality and reducing costs. It doesn’t compute. Obama has embarrassed himself saying that he can solve this dilemma by forcing docs to prescribe blue rather than red pills or stopping rapacious tonsillectomies.

  15. Teri Buhl

    @ pulled up in OG – It’s actually Bess Levin and she’s my talanted editor at Dealbreaker. For the record – I doubt I’ll ever be funnier than Bess but thanks for reading!

  16. Arouet

    If we don’t want gov’t in health care, we’ve got to be honest about taking it out. No health care for non-payers. No more Medicare/Medicaid. If you don’t have insurance or cash, you won’t get care. That’s the private sector health care model. It exists all over the world. So you have a choice: a bed in a corridor, or no bed at all unless you have health insurance or cash. Take your pick, but be honest and courageous about it. No more hybrid where private industry gets the profits and taxpayers eat the losses.

  17. PG

    Let me get this straight.

    We’re going to get a health care plan shoved down our throats that is written by a committee whose head says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn’t read it but exempts themselves from it, signed by a president that also hasn’t read it, and who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s nearly broke.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  18. Riverside Roger

    PG,

    You are so right…

    If these guys haven’t read and/don’t understand the bill, then my guess is that its written by a bunch of healthcare company lobbyists.

    There are very few times in a generation when you get a government that is willing to spend so much.

    These lobbyist firms must be salivating….

    And their guy, Daschle, is roaming the White House and Capitol halls shaking hands and whispering in ears…

    All of our kids are screwed…there will be a level of taxation soon never seen before….the piper must be paid at some point…

  19. Lville alum

    Lawrenceville prep is like saying or Chevrolet automobile. Not that L’ville is a Chevy.

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  22. DB Reader

    Bess Levin is much, much funnier.

  23. Al DiLascia

    This complaint was filed today. There is a legitimate case of age discrimination with the pending healthcare bills.
    ———————————————-
    September 3, 2009

    Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    Office for Civil Rights

    Washington, DC 20201

    Subject: Complaint in Violation of The Age Discrimination Act of 1975

    Dear Director:

    This is a serious, not a frivolous complaint, concerning the impending and certain violation based upon age of (House Bill) H.R.3200 – America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 and the Senate Bill, The Affordable Health Choices Act. It is a fact that the United States does not have the doctor / medical services to provide healthcare for an additional 50 million people. The net result of these legislations will certainly lead to rationing. Already proposed is that the necessary rationing will exclude Americans based upon age for certain, necessary health services, treatment and care. This has been clearly stated by both those who have been involved with formulating these Bills and by those advising. This is a clear discrimination based upon age.

    This complaint is being filed for myself, at 70 years of age, and for the 60 million Americans today 55 and older, and for the expected 107.6 million Americans (31 percent of the population) expected in 2030. This amounts to no less than massive age discrimination.

    As you know The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 is a national law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance, which will certainly be the case with the aforementioned House and Senate Healthcare Bills.

    In addition to a violation of The Age Discrimination Act of 1975, these healthcare Bills would also be a violation of both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution that provide protection against discrimination by federal and state governments. The 5th Amendment prohibits the federal government from depriving individuals of “life, liberty, or property” and for equal protection under the law. By depriving senior citizens the necessary care for life saving medical treatment and, for not providing equal protection, this becomes a clear violation of this Amendment. In addition The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from violating an individual’s rights and equal protection. The proposed federally mandated healthcare bills would necessarily transcend to the state level through implementation.

    This is a serious complaint involving massive and continuing discrimination in the United States in direct violation to The Age Discrimination Act of 1975; the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

    On behalf of myself and the 60 million Americans 55 years and older I request that you expeditiously address this serious complaint. I will most anxiously await your reply.

  24. PG

    http://www.businessinsider.com/how-obama-blew-it-on-health-care-2009-9

    Carney writes a great follow on the WSJ investgation into a failed plan to get republicans to get in line on obamacare.

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  26. WCI

    Reading the original post about 1/2 an hour ago, I realized I was supposed to participate on a town hall style forum with my local Congresswoman.

    How did I forget? Well, first she wasn’t planning on holding any public meetings until she was called out in the local newspaper (linked by the McClatchy DC bureau). Second, when she finally agreed to do it, she set it up as a teleconference so I went to her website for the information.

    Third, you had to give your name, street address, phone number, and email address so that her representatives could CALL YOU and add you to the call (confirmed via email)…umm, no phone call from her tonight.

    So, I go back to her website tonight and she has a new message up with the phone number and passcode to call in on. Umm, went back and checked by email, no update from her staff telling me that the procedure had changed. I’m burning up right now I am so ticked off about this.

    Yes, she’s a Democrat as if that even needed saying. Every other Congressperson in my metro area held several in person meetings (even other Dem’s) but not mine, this was her one and only announced public meeting. I am furious but not surprised by her sneaky actions.

    I wish I’d set a calendar reminder of tonight’s meeting, I might not have missed it had I done so. Smack to the head for me (smack!).

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