Town Hall Protester Defends Position On Health Care

Nancy Snyder i i

Nancy and Robert Snyder saved the signs they carried at last week's town hall in State College, Pa., hosted by Sen. Arlen Specter. Lori Knowles hide caption

itoggle caption Lori Knowles
Nancy Snyder

Nancy and Robert Snyder saved the signs they carried at last week's town hall in State College, Pa., hosted by Sen. Arlen Specter.

Lori Knowles

Nancy Snyder, a retired nurse who lives in Philipsburg, Pa., heard last week that one of her senators, Democrat Arlen Specter, was hosting a health care town hall in nearby State College. The next morning, she and her husband, Robert, got in their pickup and headed straight to the event. They left early, hoping to get a good seat and a chance to challenge Sen. Specter's support for the Democrat-backed plan to overhaul the nation's health care system.

"We decided that they weren't going to take our choices away," Snyder says. "We worked hard to get it, and we're going to keep it."

Snyder and her husband, a retired coal miner, are covered by a health insurance policy from United Mine Workers. Snyder, 70, says that under that policy she had surgery twice; her husband, 74, survived cancer. But she says they didn't pay "one penny," and they want to keep it that way for future generations.

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Snyder concedes that some parts of the health care system are flawed, but she says the solution being offered — specifically a public option — is unacceptable.

The Pennsylvania couple did not have a chance to ask Sen. Specter a question at the town hall. But while waiting in line outside, they proudly held signs in protest.

The retired nurse, who identifies as a Republican, says she regrets not speaking up about other issues like abortion and prayer in schools, but when it comes to health care, she says she has no choice.

"I certainly am not going to accept what they're trying to shove down my throat."

R.J. Harris, a local radio host in Harrisburg, Pa., echoes Snyder's sentiment. He agrees the health care system needs attention. But he says the government is simply not efficient enough to handle the problem.

The talk radio host recently emceed a "Hands Off My Health Care" rally, and encourages people to voice their concerns at town halls. But he says the media has skewed the debate by focusing on belligerent protesters.

More town halls are planned around the country, and Congress is poised to take up the issue again when lawmakers return later this summer. Meanwhile, Snyder and Harris say they want their lawmakers to hear all sides of the issue.

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