GOP challenger pushes Michaud for debate on health care plan

Posted March 18, 2010, at 7:38 p.m.

Jason Levesque, the presumptive Republican nominee to run for the 2nd Congressional District seat, on Thursday challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud to hold a town hall-style meeting with voters on President Barack Obama’s health care initiative.

Saying that the massive health care bill’s fast track through Congress would eliminate any opportunity for voters to discuss the issue with Michaud, Levesque, 35, of Auburn said Michaud’s schedule should allow for at least one such meeting from March 29 to April 9, even though Obama set a deadline of March 18 for U.S. House and Senate votes.

“This bill is thousands of pages and not only do the people have the right to have time to review it, they should have the right to speak to their voting members of Congress on the matter,” Levesque said in a press release. “And what is the rush?”

Michaud’s spokesman, Ed Gilman, said the issue has been discussed and debated heavily through local and national media, C-SPAN, and other outlets and that the time to act is near.

According to Levesque, Michaud, D-Millinocket, failed to hold any in-person town hall meeting with voters in 2009, while Congress debated health care, cap-and-trade energy taxes, and the massive stimulus bills and auto dealer bailouts.

Gilman described Levesque’s criticisms of the congressman as baseless.

Michaud keeps a very busy and active schedule meeting very often with constituents, Gilman said, hearing from and responding to thousands of Mainers on all kinds of issues.

“And on the issue of health care, he convened a series of forums to hear directly from small-business owners, consumers, and health care providers in Maine to hear how they would be affected by health insurance reform,” Gilman said.

Michaud, Gilman said, has had more than 100 meetings with Mainers on health care. He also has held telephone town hall meetings, so that Mainers’ participation in the debate wasn’t limited by geography, Gilman said.

“We have a policy in our office of responding to constituents very quickly — usually within a week or two,” Gilman said. “The congressman will continue this aggressive outreach and welcomes all Mainers to continue contacting him.”

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