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Wednesday, March 20 , 2019, 5:21 am | Mostly Cloudy 53º


Clark Vandeventer: Capps Health-Care Forum an Insult to the People She Serves

Medical care is a serious issue and merits a serious debate

The “Community Information Session on Health Insurance Reform” hosted by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara was an insult to the people she represents. Capps should be ashamed of herself.

Clark Vandeventer
Clark Vandeventer

For weeks Americans have debated the merits and shortcomings of the health-care reform package championed by President Barack Obama. Rep. Capps, who touts herself as an expert on health care, has been absent from the debate. When her staff released details Monday of her three public forums for this week I thought that was about to change. I could not have been more wrong.

I was one of the lucky 210 people who was able to attend her Santa Barbara forum. I arrived an hour early and was one of the last to get through the door. Scores more were turned away.

The hundreds who were turned away did not miss much. This was not a town-hall meeting. It was not even a public forum. As the title screen on her PowerPoint called it, this event was an “information session.” It was not a chance for Capps to have a give and take with her constituents. It was not a time for serious discussion. It was not a time for her to hear from the people she is paid to represent. It was Capps awkwardly making her case while refusing to directly face any single constituent.

Earlier this week Rasmussen reported that 42 percent of Americans believe we would get a better Congress if we randomly selected names out of a phonebook. Americans increasingly believe that Congress is out of touch. That belief is reinforced when our local congresswoman comes home for the month-long summer recess and is completely unavailable to the public until the final few days of the break. When she finally does make herself available to the public, but does so in such an artificial way, it becomes clear that not only is she out of touch but she’s out to lunch.

Capps treated the event at First United Methodist Church as if she were giving the attendants the honor of meeting with her. She has forgotten that we gave her the honor of representing us. There was no opportunity for citizens to ask questions with their own voice, to ask for a clarification, to make a comment or a statement, or to simply say, “this is how I feel.” Instead, questions were to be written out and then submitted to the League of Women Voters for screening.

My question made the cut. Although the moderator edited my question and identified me as “Claire,” I got my question through. I asked Capps to address how HR 3200 will affect the right to privacy that is assumed by all Americans and an expectation of anyone who lives in a free society.  Did her answer alleviate my concerns? No, it did not. Did I have an opportunity to ask a follow-up question or to press her when she made several statements that are in direct conflict with the language of the bill she voted in committee to support? No, I did not. All I got were vague answers and standard talking points.

Last week, The Vandeventer Group hosted a town-hall meeting on health care, and a real, open and honest discussion of the issue ensued. Local opinion leaders who are for and against the bill supported by Capps not only listened to and responded to direct questions and comments from local citizens, but also had to respond to follow-up questions and counterpoints. This is a serious issue we’re debating. At The Vandeventer Group town hall, we had serious people ready to make their respective case.

Capps is a nice person. But the challenges our country faces today require more than nice. We need real discussions that can lead to real change.

— Clark Vandeventer is a social entrepreneur and is the founder and chairman of The Vandeventer Group. He’s committed to developing practical ideas that make government work and make government work for us.

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