McCain-McConnell Health Care Road Show Closed To The Public

ap090210030152 Today, Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY), John McCain (R-AZ), and Kit Bond (MO) held a “Health Care Reform Forum” at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. However, the event was closed to the public. ThinkProgress spoke with Barbara Mueth, vice president of community relations at Children’s Mercy, who confirmed that the attendees had all been invited by either the hospital or the senators. At the event, McConnell said that it was time to “step back and start over” on health care.

McConnell and McCain will be continuing their health care road show this week. Both events will also be closed to the public:

— Charlotte, NC: McCain and McConnell will “join Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., in Charlotte on Tuesday for a ‘hospital forum’ at Carolinas Medical Center. With hospital employees and Burr’s invited guests attending, there will likely be little room for the public in an auditorium that holds fewer than 300 people, said Gail Rosenberg, spokeswoman for Carolinas HealthCare System.”

— Hialeah, FL: The event at Palmetto General will feature McCain, McConnell, and Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL). “It will be open to the press, but closed to the public.”

Although McCain has held town hall meetings, McConnell has largely avoided them. His spokesman Robert Steurer said that he is instead “speaking to Rotary clubs, chambers of commerce and hospital groups.”

On Thursday on Kansas City radio station 980 KMBZ, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) — who has faced several contentious town hall audiences — criticized the GOP senators for not opening up their events:

McCASKILL: I’m disappointed that the Republican leader of the Senate is coming to Kansas City on Monday and participating in a forum, but they’re not opening it up to the public. It’s invitation-only. I think it might be helpful for the leadership in the Republican Party to have some of the experiences I’ve had over the last week, where some of the meetings are wildly in favor of reform, and other meetings are wildly against it. I think having that pulse is important, and I think the Republican leader would benefit from that.

Elsewhere in Missouri today, McCaskill is holding a health care town hall meeting where organizers expected 1,100 people to show up. Listen to the interview here: