Lawson brings message, listens at town hall meeting
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
The look on the face of Congressman Al Lawson was stoic. It was almost as if he couldn’t believe the story he was hearing from the young man who showed up looking for answers at a town hall meeting.
“He was dropped by his health insurance company and is not just in excruciating pain, but he’s going further and further into debt,” the young man said of his friend’s plight.
He went on to explain that his friend has stopped going to the doctor.
Lawson was taken aback, explaining that hospitals have to take patients without insurance.
“We fund those programs (and) there is a lot of money out there,” Lawson said.
Relief seems to overcome the young man, whose comments were the most emotional on the troubling healthcare costs. He told his story during Lawson’s second town hall meeting since being elected to Congress last fall.
Continuing the discussion on healthcare, Lawson said he doesn’t expect the Republicans to abandon their fight to repeal Obama Care. However, he said he will support an alternative health plan that’s less costly to Americans.
While the failed Republican attempt to dismantle Affordable Healthcare Act was the overwhelming topic, Lawson’s constituents came to the Bethel Family Life Center with a lot more questions and suggestions.
“If you see something that I’m doing that you don’t like, let us know about it so we can talk about it,” Lawson said. “I’m up there to work on your behalf and that’s something I really enjoy.
“I’ve served 13 or 14 counties for many, many years so I know people have a great need.”
Unlike the scene at similar meetings held by Republicans during the Easter break from Congress, the crowd was amicable. They even seemed patient with Lawson, who at times admitted that he didn’t have answers to some concerns, but promised to get them.
“Of all the congress people and senators I’ve met, I’ve never, never felt so energized,” said Phillip Anderson, following the nearly two and a half hours meeting. “Every issue he touched on resonated really strongly with me. I feel he is doing the right thing.”
People in the packed room wanted to know if the country is preparing for war. Their list of concerns also included social security, education funding, restoring the Democratic Party to prominence, the cost of prisons, who gets incarcerated and much more.
Lawson gave an overview of how different life in Washington is compared to his days as a Tallahassee senator. He talked about some of the relationships he’s established and how important they are in getting work done.
He described Nancy Polosi, minority leader in the House of Representatives, as being phenomenal and powerful among his peers.
“You might not like her, but she is tough,” Lawson said. “If you are in an alley and you want somebody to protect you on one end, I guarantee you’ll rather have her in the alley fighting with you. She sure is a fighter. I’ve never seen anybody like her.”
One speaker after another thanked Lawson for coming home to hear what their needs are. He took the same listening session to Jacksonville and Quincy last week.
“He brought perspective about being in Washington,” said Don Toliver. “He brought it back to the people; giving us an understanding as if we are there.”