MacArthur Struggles to Maintain Order at Town Hall Amid Chants of ‘Single Payer’

Boos and cries of “liar” rained on U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3) when he told attendees of his Willingboro town hall that they will not be priced out of their coverage if they have pre-existing conditions under the provisions of his Affordable Care Act repeal efforts.

“Have you read your own bill?” a man shouted in the raucous room.

MacArthur – who made national news and sparked insider buzz about his ambitions for a future statewide run when he offered up the MacArthur Amendment to try to resolve a federal stalemate on Obamacare repeal – said he had and asked the questioner if he had read it, then a chant descended.

“Single payer!

“Single payer!

“Single payer

“Single payer!”

MacArthur tried to restore order as attendees of the town hall blistered back and forth.

“This debate is raging all over the country,” MacArthur. “Give me a few moments to try to answer the question.”

It went from bad to worse when a woman rose and asked the 3rd District congressman if he favored an independent investigation into the President Donald J. Trump-Russia connection in the aftermath of FBI Director James Comey’s firing.

“My view is the FBI still has some work to do,” MacArthur said. “No not yet.”

Boos ensued.

Moments later, a man stood up and angrily confronted MacArthur.

“I’m concerned that I have a president who attacks the free press and calls it the enemy of the people,” the man said, voice shaking with anger. “There is something mentally wrong with Donald Trump. Does anybody else see it?”

The crowd roared approval.

“Why don’t you see it, congressman?”

He then asked MacArthur how long he intends to defend “this American nightmare.”

“I hear your anger,” the congressman tried, “and I hear all the anger in this room, but when I drive across the Pine Barrens…”

Boos rained. Showered. He fought to speak.

“Do you accept that for everyone of you there is someone who totally disagrees with you?” MacArthur endeavored.

Boos. Shouts of “no, no.”

Later, “Answer the question, answer the question, answer the question” drowned out MacArthur.

Throughout he tried to make his case for repealing the ACA but met resistance room-wide from people who read his amendment as a weakening of the pre-existing conditions coverage provision in Obamcare and a sop to the Freedom Caucus.

A man with an even voice rose and asked MacArthur how he could reconcile the potential loss of federal funds with his own effort to combat opioid addiction.

“The simple answer is I understand Rob Portman’s concerns,” MacArthur said. “This bill doesn’t reduce anyone’s Medicaid payment. What it does is says to the states, ‘you have to participate.’ What the bill does it says to the states, you will give you a per capita charge for Medicaid and we’ll index it for Medicaid inflation. You’re not getting an open check book.”

Moments later, a self-identified 17-year old woman rose and asked the congressman if rape is a pre-existing condition.

“Yes or no?” she demanded.

MacArthur tried to answer but got shouted and booed down.

“I will not describe a violent act against a woman as a pre-existing condition, but this bill does not discriminate,” he said.

He was flooded with a new round of boos and cheers for the young woman, Dacy, who had confronted him.

 

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