The Obama team has asked for reports from these meetings, and Daschle has said the sessions would “lead to members of Congress taking note.” Some attendees were very clear about what they expected. Mildred Lockridge, who came to a session at a wellness center in Washington D.C., warned “if it’s a dog and pony show, they’re going to hear from me. We’ve had too many dog and pony shows.” Chip Kahn, who heads the Federation of American Hospitals, a trade group for the for-profit hospitals, offered this perspective to The Washington Post: “The Obama playbook is to engage everyone as long as they can, try to avoid getting into the details as long as they can. But in health care, details matter.”

Reporters have done the easy part—taking down quotes from people willing to talk. Making sense of the details will be much harder, especially when the players will try to keep them secret. But it will be those details that determine which people who came to the meetings will be heard.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.