Cardin Faces Another Emotional, Vocal Audience

Critics, proponents pack Maryland health-care meeting

HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- An excitable but generally respectful crowd attended Sen. Ben Cardin's health-care reform town hall meeting in Hagerstown.

Jeers often interrupted the Maryland Democrat during the 70-minute session, but he also drew loud applause when he said he supports a Patients' Bill of Rights and opposes age discrimination in access to care.

Cardin, who faced a tough crowd at Monday night’s town hall in Towson, hoped for a civil meeting. Soon after he took the stage, things began to get rowdy.

People lined up outside the Hagerstown Community College theater several hours before the meeting. After the 440-seat auditorium was filled, campus security chief Henry Gautney estimated about 500 people were left outside.

Cardin told reporters the level of interest in the topic is “remarkable.” At town halls held by members of Congress across the country, emotions have come to the surface, in some cases approaching violence.

Security was beefed up at Cardin’s town hall, but the crowd didn’t get out of control.

There have been efforts to mislead the public about the plan, Cardin said, and those efforts don't help the debate.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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