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Rep. Dunn Frustrates Constituents By Not Holding Town Hall

Republican Panama City surgeon Neal Dunn is running for Congressional District 2, currently held by Democrat Gwen Graham.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City, is not planning to hold a town hall in his district this week. But the North Florida Republican did recently sit down for a television interview with CSPAN.

Congressman Dunn says “everybody” in his district wanted him to vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Republican Panama City surgeon Neal Dunn is running for Congressional District 2, currently held by Democrat Gwen Graham.
The Florida Channel

Panama City Republican said it’s hurting businesses in his district.

“It is breaking the backs of every business," he said. So, you’re actually only covering 7 percent of the population with this insurance, but you’re pushing the cost out onto everybody and it’s just unsupportable. So, everybody wanted that gone and that was a big thing.”

The proposal that passed the Republican House could increase the premiums for seniors and people whose coverage lapses. It would also roll back the Medicaid expansion and let states cover fewer medical services. The Senate is reportedly writing its own proposal.

But when Dunn did hold a town hall in March, Florida resident Tasha Schmidt told him she could die if she loses her health insurance. She has multiple medical conditions and struggled to afford care before she was covered through Obamacare. Schmidt said she’s tried unsuccessfully to get on Medicaid or disability.

“So can you promise me that I’m not going to lose my care, that I’m not going to be one of those 17 million people who lose their insurance next year because that could end my life,” she said.

Tallahassee resident Avril Wood-McGrath said she’s frustrated because she believes that Dunn is avoiding his constituents. Wood-McGrath worries about her sister and other family members with health conditions. She spoke to Democratic Senator Bill Nelson at his town hall last weekend.

“Representatives of Congress have to represent us and they have to have public events like this," she said. "So I thank you Bill and I thank you for support of the ACA, which has saved my family.”

More than 250 people attended Dunn’s March town hall in Panama City, which was contentious at times. Dunn has held two in-person town halls since taking office. He met with a small group of people in Tallahassee in February, but he refused to address the large angry crowd outside.

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Sarah Mueller is the first recipient of the WFSU Media Capitol Reporting Fellowship. She’ll be covering the 2017 Florida legislative session and recently earned her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois Springfield. Sarah was part of the Illinois Statehouse press corps as an intern for NPR Illinois in 2016. When not working, she enjoys playing her yellow lab, watching documentaries and reading memoirs.