CARBONDALE — In the best interest of working through such issues as reforming the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost said he met this week with representatives from local hospitals and smaller groups of constituents in order to gain insight on that issue and others.
Bost said he wanted to sidestep the verbal discord that had marred some other legislators' public sessions and town hall meetings across the country.
"The in-person ones going on around the United States right now are out of control, which means you don't actually get to talk to people and listen, and we're looking for ways to do that," Bost said in a Friday morning meeting with The Southern Illinoisan editorial board.
One way he is doing that is meeting with groups of two to four people, like those he met with in Belleville earlier this week who were initially part of protests of possible changes to the ACA, Bost said.
After that meeting, in which he said the individuals said they agreed with some parts and disagreed with other parts of what he'd said, they asked whether he'd be hosting the in-person, public town hall meetings.
"I'm not going to have the public town hall meetings, in that respect, because I am busy trying to work on the issue," he said. "If all you want to do is stand and yell at me ... we're not going back and forth."
On Tuesday, protesters met outside Bost's Carbondale office to share their concerns about his support of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and then again on Thursday, to request an in-person town hall meeting.
This week, Bost met with staff at three hospitals in his district: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Pinckneyville Community Hospital and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Belleville. He also spoke to students at Murphysboro High School, hosted an Agriculture Advisory Board meeting in Red Bud, and held 12 individual meetings with his constituents. Bost's staff shared the representative's schedule on Wednesday afternoon.
In the meeting at The Southern, Bost said anyone wanting to talk to him should visit his website to request a meeting. People can also sign up to join Bost's next telephone town hall meeting on his website at bost.house.gov/telephone-town-hall-sign.
He has been in the district this week, and plans to head back to Washington, D.C., on Monday morning.