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Dear Editor: I regret I was unable to hold a town hall meeting in the northern part of my district during our August recess from votes in Washington.

That entire month was booked long before the recent (astounding) surge in public interest for town halls. So I was only able to squeeze in two. And as I expected, these were great events from my perspective. I wish I could have done dozens.

My August schedule included both family and military commitments. I spent the first two weeks of the month backpacking, climbing and fishing in Wyoming with my son before he left for college. And at the request of Special Operations Command, I led a Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan and Africa during the last week of the month. In between, I filled my days with as many meetings as possible with health care providers and local leadership in nearly all of my 21 counties. The typical day's schedule had me leaving my house between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and returning home between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

While other Members of Congress were cancelling town hall meetings upon the recommendation of the Capitol Police, I scheduled one in Forsyth and one in Warner Robins. They were heavily publicized and attracted about 550 and 1,200 participants respectively. This gave me a great opportunity to explain why, as presently drafted, I do not support any of the health care reform bills currently before Congress.

Like most Americans, I'd like to see improvements in access to health care. But I cannot support legislation that will worsen the nation's already disastrous fiscal health. Health care "reform" worthy of that title must significantly "bend the cost curve."

Something must be done. Our creditors will soon force health care cost reforms if we can't muster the will to do it on our own schedule. Simply put, we are presently headed toward national bankruptcy because of health care costs. To understand why, I highly recommend David Goldhill's article "How American Health Care Killed My Father," in September's edition of The Atlantic. Here's a link:
In the last two years, I've held four town hall meetings in Newton County alone (Covington, 8/17/07; Mansfield, 8/21/07; Porterdale, 1/9/08; and Newborn, 3/24/08). These have averaged a couple of dozen attendees, many of them local leaders I regularly meet in other settings. General public interest in town halls just hasn't been there until the last few months.

If you have any thoughts on health care or if there is anything else I can do to assist you, please let me know.