Vandy Middleton, a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom who lives in Midtown Columbus, asked Rep. Sanford Bishop why he was against in the health care bill.
"When people have spoken in opposition, you seem to defend the bill," Middleton said. "What are you opposed to?"
Bishop outlined several concerns in the legislation.
"I am concerned about how it will impact small businesses," he said.
He pointed out there are more than 100,000 small businesses in the Second Congressional District, which stretches form South Columbus to the Florida line and takes in all or parts of more than 30 Southwest Georgia counties.
He said he had questions about how health care cooperatives -- similar to utility cooperatives or banking credit unions -- would work.
"I am not certain that cooperatives would be equally as good as the public option," Bishop said.
The public option, which has been a point of contention, would open up insurance to the nearly 46 million uninsured citizens.
After an approximately 15 minute break, the town hall meeting has resumed. It is expected to run until about 11:30 a.m.
Television commentator and Columbus resident Al Fleming took the microphone and urged Bishop to oppose the legislation when it comes time to vote. He also expressed his concern that Bishop's vote would go the way of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and President Barack Obama.
"My vote doesn't belong to Nancy Pelosi, it doesn't belong to Barack Obama," Bishop said. "It belongs to the people in the second district of Georgia."
Only about half of the crowd that filed in for this morning's meeting is left at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.
Frank Stringfellow, a veteran of the Vietnam War, said he's been paying into Medicare and and social security for years. He had a list of suggestions for Bishop to take back to Washington after the recess. Specifically, Stringfellow asked for harsher punishments for those who are found guilty of practicing Medicare fraud. He also implored Bishop to make sure undocumented immigrants are not given health care. Bishop pointed out that it's a provision that's already in the language of the bill.
Bishop said he still has some questions about how the bill will impact small businesses. He also said there are parts of the bill that he thinks will be good and beneficial to the people.
"There are a number of things in the bill that I think could be approved," he said.
Town hall meeting attendee Carol Tatum, 50, asked U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, to poll the audience in order to gauge who was for or against the implementation of the proposed health care reform legislation.
Bishop agreed to conduct the poll, although he made it clear that this audience of about 500 people did not represent his whole district. All the same, the congressman asked everyone in favor of the legislation to clap. He then asked those against the legislation to applaud. The louder response came from those who oppose the legislation.
With the onset of the question and answer portion of Bishop's town hall meeting at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, the audience began to voice their opinions both at the microphone and from their seats.
"They don't want this, don't support it," George A. Wade, retired U.S. Army soldier, implored the congressman after waiting his turn to speak. This comment was met with both boos and loud applause. The room seems split on this issue.
Bishop, D-Georgia, opened his town hall meeting Wednesday by saying he was undecided on how he would vote on a health care reform bill.
"My vote does not belong to the president, it does not belong to the speaker, it belongs to the people of the Second Congressional District," he said to a crowd of about 500 Wednesday morning at the National Infantry Museum and Solider Center.
There are currently five versions in House committees.
Bishop said the bill was not perfect.
About 300 people have gathered at the National Infantry Museum and Solider Center Wednesday morning for U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop's health care town hall meeting.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m.
There were about 20 people lined up outside the museum at 7 a.m. A half hour later it doubled.
There are law enforcement personnel from the Columbus Police Department, Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, Muscogee County Marshal's Office and the museum's security force. Those entering the museum are having their bags checked. A police dog was brought in prior to the doors opening at 7:30.
Congress members have faced contentious town hall meetings throughout the August recess.
A group of nursing students from Columbus Technical College are in the audience. Marian Brown, a clinical instructor for the college and nurse at St. Francis says she and her students are hear to learn more about health care and not to cause any problems.
"They're getting ready to come out into the health care world and I think it's important for them to understand what's going on," Brown said.
Columbus resident Junie Christian was one of those gathered.
"Are we going to hear health care or ideology?" he said. "I hope we hear health care."
More questions and answers
Around minute 46 of the town hall meeting, the congressman began to take audience questions.
"I do hope you have a question and not a speech. There are a number of people who'd like to be heard and who'd like to hear the answers."
Mary Simmons thanked the congressman for taking the time to meet with the community. She wanted to know how he felt about the public option for health care.
Bishop said the option is designed to challenge the private insurance companies to be more competitive.
Paul Olsen took to the microphone next and asked if Bishop was for a national medical device registry as outlined in Subtitle C, Section 2521. Bishop said, to clarify, that those who have for example a pace maker would be registered in a national directory for class III medical devices and class II devices that are permanently implantable.
Olsen said he understood the legislation language as saying that a microchip would be implanted in patients, a concept that made him feel uncomfortable. Bishop countered by reading aloud the legislation.
"Basically this is a patient safety provision," Bishop said.
Bret Crumpton, an eye surgeon practicing in Columbus, said he's adamantly opposed to these bills before congress. The medical association of Georgia does not support the legislation, Crumpton said. To this statement, the crowd clapped loudly. Some boo'd too.
Please stay with Ledger-Enquirer.com for more updates on this town hall meeting.