Not too many years ago, the summer town hall meeting was something that federal officials dreaded.
Discontent with President Barack Obama’s health care plans, the Wall Street bailout and the federal stimulus program transformed the usually sleepy “meet your congressman” sessions into noisy free-for-alls.
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Not so Saturday for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, who faced about 200 veterans and family members in Independence to discuss the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, and how it affects veterans’ benefits.
To fill in the details, he brought along Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the person the president is counting on to assure a smooth rollout of the program as its major provisions take effect in 2014.
This town hall was utterly devoid of the drama that marked those in previous years, Cleaver noted afterward.
“You could sense the people were hungry for good information,” Cleaver said.
And Sebelius earned the biggest applause of the day with a one-word answer — “No” — to a question about whether her department would take over the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system.
“Our (message) to veterans, to seniors on Medicare and to those with private insurance is that nothing changes,” Sebelius said. “If you have insurance you like, you keep it.”