Health care talk draws 1,500 to Delmar

Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko may have needed some medicine of his own after listening to the shouts, cheers, and at times vulgarities, lobbed at him by nearly 1,500 people during his health care chat at Delmar's Elm Avenue Park.

Pitching President Barack Obama's health-care reform plan, Tonko described universal health care as uniquely American on Tuesday, Aug. 25, during a town-hall style meeting that was attended by supporters and detractors.

Tonko appeared at the meeting alongside Bethlehem Supervisor Jack Cunningham, who gave a brief statement thanking the crowd and thanking the congressman for coming to town.

The representative from Amsterdam then took the stage and thanked both sides for coming out to hear him.

"Allow me to thank each and every person who assembled here this evening under this pavilion," Tonko told the crowd after long and sustained applause and cheers. "This is an expression of who we are as a nation and an expression of our beliefs and our principles that guide us."

However, the enthusiastic welcome turned into enthusiastic dissatisfaction with some of the congressman's answers. He was interrupted on several occasions and at one time pleaded with the crowd that "you're not even giving me a chance."

The health care issue stems from a 1,017-page bill in the House of Representatives called H.R. 3200 that calls for universal health coverage for Americans. The purpose of the bill is to, "provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes."

Former news anchor Lydia Kulbida agreed to moderate the discussion, something that she admitted on the stage later in the evening, "I may have regretted."

She tried to tame the crowd and keep things orderly, especially when the topics of coverage for illegal aliens and taxpayer-supported abortion riled up the crowd.

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