Updated: Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009, 12:06 AM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009, 12:06 AM MDT
SANTA FE (KRQE) - The fight over reforming the nation's health-care system came to Santa Fe Monday but without the fireworks that have plagued town-hall meetings in other states.
However the one town hall unexpectedly became two when the fire marshal closed the door on the overflow crowd.
Across the country, Americans have been showing up in droves at such meetings looking for information or to protest or support the plans being thrashed out by Congress and President Obama.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., presided over the first such town hall to be held in New Mexico.
The room at the Santa Fe Unitarian Church quickly filled to its capacity of about 150, but many more showed up. So around 8:30 p.m. organizers ushered in a new crowd of nearly 100.
Those who couldn't get it in were given a questionnaire from Luján.
And for what was characterized as added security members of the audience were not allowed to ask questions directly to the panel of found. Instead they wrote it down on a card to be asked by a moderator.
"We're leaving early because it seemed to be pretty much biased in favor of the reform," Michelle Ferran said as she headed out. "We were hoping to get both sides of it."
Luján spoke about the details of the bill saying there's a lot of misinformation out there. He said he supports the public option--an independent insurance carrier created by the legislation--because he thinks the competition with private insurance companies will bring costs down.
Also on the panel family practitioner Dr. Tyler Taylor who drew both laughs and applause for his take on insurance companies.
"Some days health insurance companies seem like distant cousins of the Mafia," he said.
While there were no disturbances or outburst, that didn't mean people weren't strongly for or against public option.
KRQE News 13 collected a sampling of opinion from people attending the meeting.
Residents who didn't make it into this town hall will have another chance to hear New Mexico congressmen talk about health-care reform.
Rep. Martin Heinrich will host a town hall Saturday at the University of New Mexico. Sen. Tom Udall and Luján will take part in another town hall next Wednesday at the Santa Fe Community College.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman has also agreed to host town halls in New Mexico this month. A list of date and times should be out this week.
Rep. Harry Teague also is touring his district during the August
congressional recess but was not planning any formal town-hall