When Representative Rod Blum (R-Iowa) appeared before a crowd of people at a gathering in Dubuque high school gym, the energy was less than positive.
Angry constituents wanted answers about health care and the town hall meeting was meant to be a reassurance to the public that all was being taken care of. However, many people didn't see it that way.
Blum took a little over two minutes to explain what he'd like to change about the Obama-era health-care law. He voted for the GOP's partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act and one of his first recommendations was to get rid of "crazy regulations." Such as "a 62-year-old male having to pay pregnancy insurance."
Among the boos and angry questions, 63-year-old Barbara Rank sat silently in the bleachers. She did not get up from her seat like many of her neighbors, she didn't shout or demand answers. She simply listened and absorbed everything Blum said.
That night she went home, fired-up by what she heard, but she also knew that she needed time to think.
Rank tells The Washington Post that she woke early as usual the next day, but the events of the night before were still fresh on her mind.
As she walked the four miles through Dubuque towards her favorite bakery, she thought about what Blum had said - about men being forced to pay for maternity insurance.
Then she put pen to paper.
In 96 words, she answered Blum's question and sent it to her local newspaper.
She had no idea that her tiny essay would cause such a stir, but more than 100,000 people have read it since someone shared a clipping on Reddit.
“The conclusion is something I always end up saying,” she said. “Every argument I've ever had with somebody, friends or relative: Don't you want to live in a civil society? Government is the structure of the country we live in. It's not as bad as people make it out to be.”
Plenty of others agreed with her point:
Barbara Rank - American hero. Please run for office. We need elected officials with your perspective! https://t.co/VlDm9q7ssh— Suzy Q (@SuzyQuest) May 13, 2017
The Washington Post reports that Blum's spokesperson said that the representative's comments about maternity insurance were taken out of context:
“He was referring to the idea of patients being able to choose health insurance policies that fit their needs, rather than one size fits all policies filled with government mandates,” the spokesman wrote. “Obviously he understands that taxes pay for things that not everybody uses."
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