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Our View: Express health care views respectfully at forum

There is a real consensus health care is broken.

Those are the words in writing from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater who has invited her constituents to attend a town hall-style forum she is holding this Thursday, Aug. 27, just down the road at Oak-Land Junior High in Lake Elmo.

Bachman, a two-term Republican U.S. House representative in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District who has developed somewhat of a lightning rod reputation over the last few years, plans to bring along to the forum her Republican colleague Congressman Michael Burgess, M.D. of Texas to provide some perspective from the medical profession to the landmark issue of health care reform.

The forum runs from 2:45p.m. to 4 p.m., which makes it a little tough for the working crowd to get there. But even still, this is an opportunity for Bachmann's constituents on all sides of the political spectrum to engage in a discussion with the congresswoman and with each other on an issue that may rival, in terms of its impact, the passage of the New Deal more than 75 years ago, which set forth the development of social security and several other public reforms.

The topic and timing of this forum makes it a highly anticipated event. So does the person holding the forum.

There is no doubt that before and since her election to Congress in 2006 Bachmann has developed a well-pronounced base of supporters and detractors in the Sixth District, which sprawls from the rural town of Melrose north of St. Cloud all the way down to the burgeoning suburb of Woodbury in the east metro.

And there is no doubt that both her fans and foes will be in attendance to express their views on the topic at hand. We encourage healthy debate and we encourage all who can attend the forum do so, for this is a most important discussion that will impact every nook and cranny of our community.

Well into her second term, Bachmann has made it clear where she stands on the current health care issue. Essentially, she's not a fan of the single-payer health care reform bill that is likely to be considered in the House of Representatives next month.

Bachmann has proposed legislation of her own (H.R. 502) she says will cut down on costs, make health care more accessible and center on patients having the freedom to choose their own doctors and make their own medical decisions. Does her proposal actually live up her promises? And what about the single-payer bill (H.R. 676) introduced by Congressman John Conyers, D-Mich. that is likely to get discussion in the House? Does it hold up against public scrutiny? The only way to find out is to educate yourself on the issue.

The issue of health care reform, how we got to where we are and where we are going is one that will ultimately be decided in the halls of Congress. But the representatives who make those decisions must have your ear. The forum taking place Thursday, Aug. 27 is a tremendous opportunity to express your views to your representative.

Most of us have seen the footage of some of the other town hall meetings that have been held on this subject in recent weeks and how tensions have been high from all sides.

We endorse enthusiasm and passion in discussion of this issue. We even endorse healthy debate.

But we do not condone the mob mentality or abuse of the public forum that we have seen take place at some of the town hall meetings held around the country in recent weeks. Get informed, form a healthy dialogue and express your opinion respectfully.