Though the calendar read September and fresh, fall-like temperatures had replaced summer's heat, the spirit of the town halls of the August recess was very much in evidence. A vocal minority jeered derisively at Hoyer's answers and shouted their disapproval of efforts to change the health care system.
"We want the government out of our business," April Burke of Mechanicsville told the congressman, prompting the first of many standing ovations by opponents.
Perhaps the loudest applause from those opposed to the Democratic proposals came with the now-familiar challenge that members of Congress would not be participating in the system they want to create.
"Every member of Congress will have exactly the same choice that you have," Hoyer replied.
There were repeated questions related to coverage of illegal immigrants in the plan. Hoyer said illegal immigrants were specifically excluded by the main House Democratic proposal but acknowledged that, under a 1986 law, public hospitals are not allowed to turn away anyone seeking care and may not inquire about citizenship in treating them.
Hoyer was greeted by a mixture of cheers and boos when he arrived at the school gym. Democratic organizers did a better job than at earlier town halls in Maryland in getting their supporters in line early, but opponents were very much in evidence.
Ground rules for the meeting included a polite request that members of the audience "not interrupt, yell or use profanity."
But when Hoyer tried to debunk the false claim that legislation being considered by the House would create "death panels," there was a smattering of applause, followed by a wall of boos and now familiar shouts of "Read the bill!"
"I have read the bill," the congressman said.
In a recent interview, Hoyer emphasized that the House would not be voting on the 1,017-page measure that has become the object of intense criticism since its approval by several committees in late July. Instead, a separate proposal - containing elements of the legislation that has been working its way through the House, is likely to come up for a vote late this month.
Several health care measures are under consideration in Congress, and Obama is being urged to lay out his own legislative priorities.
Among the provisions that many Democrats support - but that appear to be in jeopardy as the Obama administration and party leaders try to craft a plan that can become law - is the creation of a "public option," a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.
The cost of the plan - currently in the range of $1 trillion over 10 years - might have to be reduced in order to gain the votes of moderate-to-conservative Democrats in the House and the Senate. Already, House liberals have shaved the cost of their main proposal in response to opposition from Blue Dog centrists by making it slightly less generous to lower-income Americans.
Hoyer is the highest-ranking representative to hold a town hall-style meeting on health care during Congress' summer vacation. The crowd in Charles County last night was more than three times as large as those at Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin's town hall meetings last month.
Americans are split over whether the protesters at town hall meetings reflect the opinions of the public as a whole, according to a new CBS News poll released Tuesday. But that national opinion survey and others have shown declining support for Democratic overhaul plans in recent months.
According to the CBS poll, completed Monday, most Americans surveyed say they are confused by the health care debate and that support for a government-run insurance plan has dropped sharply since June.
Fewer than one in three of those surveyed said they understood the health care proposals being discussed in Washington. And a clear majority of Americans said Obama has not clearly explained his plans for reshaping the medical system.
In fact, Obama has not proposed a plan and Congress is debating a number of different proposals.
If both houses of Congress approve their competing measures, a House-Senate conference committee would then have to come up with a compromise that would go back to each chamber for a final vote.