- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TOWSON, Md. | As many as 2,000 people turned out Tuesday evening for a town-hall meeting on health care reform at Towson University.

Maryland members of the Health Care for America Now coalition held a counter-rally before the meeting hosted by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, one of many being held nationwide as protests grow over reforms Congress will consider after its summer break. A meeting in St. Louis last week ended with six arrests.

Protesters chanted and carried signs that read “No socialized medicine,” “Public option is no option,” “Health care can’t wait” and “Health care is a right.”

Larry Serra of Monkton is self-employed at a small company that makes products for teak furniture. He showed up because he’s “sick and tired of government growing by leaps and bounds, taking over every aspect of our lives.”

Jeff Werner of Hagerstown said, “I like having my own choice.” He said his company’s plan costs $5,000 a year and covers 90 percent of his health care costs.

Mr. Werner has two sons, ages 14 and 8; he’s worried that with the reforms being proposed by Congress, his current option would go away.

“You do have to have some reform, but that doesn’t mean you take away our choice,” he said.

Phil Pascoe of Baltimore just lost his job in sales at AT&T. He is vice president of Local 2107 for the Communication Workers of America and said health care reform is needed.

“We’re paying too much money and getting very little for it,” he said. Mr. Pascoe wasn’t sure that the government insurance option was the answer, but “we need to do something and we need to do it now.”

Sean Dobson, 45, of Silver Spring, director of Progressive Maryland, rejected arguments that the government option would drive private insurers out of business.

“That’s crazy. Nobody says the library drives the bookstores out of business,” Mr. Dobson said, adding that those arguments were being made by insurers looking to maintain their monopoly.

A university spokeswoman said the first 500 attendees filled the hall, with the others outside.

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