Healthcare town hall meeting held in Harlingen

Pauline Pentico

Health care is a big issue for those who cannot afford it.

About 265 concerned Rio Grande Valley residents took to the podium Tuesday night at the Harlingen Public Library to ask questions about President Obama's health care reform proposals. Most people simply wanted a clear explanation of the government's proposed health care plan.

Instead of a heated battle at the town hall meeting, claps and cheers filled the auditorium of the Harlingen Public Library. The group united with a common bond: their concern over the Health Care Reform Bill. During the forum, individuals had one minute to either ask a question or voice their opinion on the controversial issue.

Pauline Pentico, a town hall meeting attendee, said, "They need to be aware of what we the people want." While another attendee, Bob Drasner, felt that the plan is unconstitutional.

"It's very clear," he said. "It says they are to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. It doesn't say they're supposed to provide the general welfare. If somebody could point it out to me, that would be great." Johnnie Faye Taylor was at the forum and expressed some disappointment.

"I believe everybody should have a right to be heard," Taylor said. "I believe that our representatives were elected to represent their constituents, and it's disappointing that none of them showed up tonight. Johnnie Faye is referring to Congressmen Solomon Ortiz and Ruben Hinojosa, who did not show up. However, candidates for the U.S. Congress, who were in attendance, addressed the crowd. Willie Vaden, candidate for the U.S. Congress, said that it's all about informing and easing people's fears.

"What we want to do here is to assure them that their fears are valid to the point of the questions they may ask," Vaden said. He believes one forum is not enough.

He suggested that the Valley hold at least two forums each month.