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Bachmann Faces Raucous Crowd in Minnesota

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LAKE ELMO, Minn. — In her first health care town hall of the August recess, Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann faced a volatile crowd looking for answers on the future of health care in America.Hundreds of constituents packed into the junior high school auditorium here, at times getting into shouting matches with one another during the 45-minute meeting.Attendees lined up more than an hour before the forum began, quickly filling the parking lot and overwhelming Bachmann’s advance team’s plan for parking. Constituents were left to fend for themselves, parking along the highway, nearly half a mile from the school.Texas GOP Rep. Michael Burgess joined Bachmann, an outspoken conservative, at the town hall.While many of the public events that lawmakers have held during August have tempered recently, the Minnesota crowd Thursday was far from tame. “I don’t know of anybody who wants to [keep] the status quo,” Bachmann said during her opening statement. “The question is what kind of reform will it be?”Bachmann, who has been a vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s proposal to provide a public insurance option as part of health care reform, said that for her it was about putting the choices in the hands of the American people and not Washington bureaucrats.Bachmann also said that she wants to rework the insurance system, moving away from the state-based regulatory framework, erasing the state boundaries and increasing competition.At times tempers flared at the forum, with constituents shouting at one another.LeRoy Schaffer, a St. Francis city council member, dressed in a tuxedo and top hat for the occasion. Shaffer got visibly emotional asking Bachmann about the future of health care and the role of special interests in Washington.“I’ll be danged if I am going to give up my Social Security because of socialism,” Schaffer said, before being booed by the crowd.Wayne Johnson of Ham Lake asked Bachmann why Congress had not included medical malpractice as a provision in the bill. A former actuary, Johnson said he thought that should be part of an overhaul.Bachmann respond that she would like to see it included as well and that it could reduce the cost of health care.“Isn’t it interesting in 1,018 pages they weren’t able to put one line of tort reform in the bill,” Bachmann said.At one point, Bachmann told the crowd: “I believe we have the best health care in the world.”“I far prefer American health care than medical care in the U.K. any day of the week,” Bachmann said.Lifting a stack of news reports about the health care problems in England, Bachmann told a story about women having to give birth in hospital hallways.One angry male constituent yelled, “That happens here.” And Bachmann quickly retorted, “I’ve given birth here probably more times than you, sir.”Bachmann wasn’t without supporters, though. One audience member, Dee Korrela of Brooklyn Park, told her, “You are my hero.”

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