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Rep. Inslee's Kingston health care forum subdued, compared to last one | Slideshow

KINGSTON — Health care reform was still a key topic at a town hall meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) Monday in Kingston, but the crowd and emotion fell well short of Inslee's last North Kitsap forum.

About 1,000 people packed a North Kitsap High School gymnasium for a meeting with Inslee in August 2009, in the midst of the national health reform debate. Since then, sweeping health care legislation has been signed into law. Monday's meeting drew fewer than 200 people to a Kingston High School cafeteria.

Colleen Smith, a Kingston resident and conservative activist, said the Monday meeting lacked the urgency of Inslee's last stop in North Kitsap.

"We still had hope that they wouldn't pass this unconstitutional bill," Smith said of the August meeting. Still, she said there is strong opposition to the law.

On Monday, Inslee focused his discussion of the health care bill on its budget ramifications. He said provisions to make healthcare providers more efficient could save the federal government $100 million.

"I think the bill has real opportunities for cost containment," he said.

Inslee took questions on the federal budget, finance reform, job creation and clean energy for about two hours. The Kingston meeting was the only town hall meeting Inslee scheduled for Kitsap County this spring.

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