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Hundreds of People Wait for McCaskill Forum

Hours before U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was even in Springfield, Monday, for her public healthcare forum, hundreds of people, old and young, stood in line outside the Gillioz Theater waiting to get in. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.

As people wait on the streets around the Gillioz Theater, they hoist high signs both praising and criticizing a government-run healthcare system.

They discuss their opinions of Senator McCaskill and how they think she’ll help or hurt the healthcare system.

McCaskill has been traveling all over Missouri hosting public healthcare forums and Springfield was her last stop.

The forum didn’t start until 12:30, but one man was outside standing in line at 4:30 in the morning.

Kenneth Ellis says he wants to see minor healthcare changes, but he says he doesn’t want the whole healthcare system to be turned upside down.

“I don’t think the government should be in this. The government should back off. If there are reforms, make reforms, but don’t change it all. There’s several things that will work without taking it over and losing what we have now,” Ellis said.

Ellis says the bills McCaskill is supporting now are too long and hard to understand.

Another person close to the front was Bobbie Lurie.

She says she has known McCaskill since she was a little girl and says she supports anything McCaskill says.

“She’s brilliant. She’s wonderful and she will vote correctly. She’s very smart, but she’s very practical. Claire votes for the people of Missouri. She knows that we have some conservatives and she’s very middle of the ground,” Lurie said.

On the other hand, Jeff Germann says he’s worried that the federal government will take away people’s right to choose their own healthcare providers.

He says if he gets to ask McCaskill a question he has several things he wants to say.

“I’m going to ask her to tell me or show me where in the constitution it justifies the U.S. Government taking over healthcare. It’s not the government’s place to be doing it,” Germann said.

Not everyone was there to take political sides.

A group of high schools students from Strafford came to learn about how the federal government works.

Doug Fields is a government teacher at Strafford and he says he made all the students prepare by reading the bill and looking at the conservative and liberal sides of the healthcare debate.

“Our government is trying to allow the people to have a say and we wanted them to be able to see democracy in action,” Fields said.

While McCaskill has yet to identify the details of how she thinks the U.S. healthcare system should be changed, she has said that doing “nothing” is not an option.

Whether or not the people standing in line agreed or disagreed with McCaskill, the people we talked to agreed that they are happy to have a chance to voice their opinions publicly.

For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.