American Morning

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August 11th, 2009
07:08 AM ET

Health care debate going too far?

Several hundred people, both for and against health care reform, gathered to demonstrate on August 8, 2009 in Brighton, Colorado. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Several hundred people, both for and against health care reform, gathered to demonstrate on August 8, 2009 in Brighton, Colorado. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

After a week of sometimes rowdy congressional town hall meetings on health care reform, the president wades into the superheated August recess debate. He's holding a town hall meeting here in Portsmouth where both sides of the issue are gearing up for dueling rallies outside of the event.

Over the last week, members of Congress have run head on into protesters at town hall meetings. But opponents of health care reform aren't just showing up at town hall meetings.

Here in New Hampshire last week, protesters descended on staff members of Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen who were holding a routing constituent services meeting. The meeting was not a town hall meeting. And the senator wasn't even there.

But she says one of her staff members needed a police escort to leave the meeting. Shaheen called the display "shameful." Just another sign that tensions are rising over health care reform.

Watch: Obama braces for town hall Video

Is the debate over health care going too far? Do Americans really want reform or is this just politics? What do you think?

Filed under: Health • Politics
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Hardy

    I'm from Germany and I'm proud that we have a health system in which everyone gets the best medical aid even if the person is poor. Your system is much more expensive although it's privately organized! And btw i don't live in a communistic country! Of course most things the market can do best, but in some cases markets fail and state intervention is required. Wake up and don't be so ideological! Greetz my friends!

    September 13, 2009 at 12:16 am |
  2. Trish

    This country is not interested in debate.! They are acting like spoiled rotten children. If my mother would see me yelling, being rude or disrespectful I would be in big trouble. A debate is where one side presents their arguments and the other responds. Where one ask a question and then respectfully listens to the answer being presented.
    I for one would like to know all the facts about health reform. My children no longer are qualified under our family plan due to age and completion of school. Their jobs can't afford to give them health care and yet make to much to qualify for title bennefits. What happens to them if they get sick, or like their father have to battle cancer. We have pretty good health insurance, at a high price I might add, and still owed 26 thousand dollars out of our pockets to cover what insurance didn't. This country needs to make some changes. Talk about death panels. Wake up people, we already have them. If you have the best insurance or a load of money, you get well, you stay well and your chances of staying alive, pretty darn good. I don't care how much money you have, the car you drive, the house you live in. Human beings should be treated humane. All for one and all for one in this area. Gone to far? Yes, some have with their foolishness and it's an embarassment. You stand on Values and Moral high ground. Where is you Christian attitudes when it comes to helping your fellow man. We survied cancer and paid off all our bills by ourselves and only make 32 thousand a year. It took a while but we did it, and nobody, not even the church offered to help us out with the expense. We need competitve care, and care for the ones that don't have any coverage at all. If you have insurance stop whinning at least we're covered. No one has a glass ball into the future how it will all play out, but at least act like adults and debate with reason, not tempers and emotions.

    August 16, 2009 at 3:42 am |
  3. Scott Cameron

    I wish these people would get off their partisan high horse and have a reasonable, intelligent debate. The president that ran on a platform of bi-partisanship is just being stonewalled by the old "fear card" again. I didn't see one Democrat appointed by the Bush administration and I think that this alone should prove President Obama's credability. Wake up people and realize we're all Americans first and party affiliations second. If we don't I'm afraid of what's in our future.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  4. Kim from Canada

    I had this comment posted after listening to the ridiculous mother this am- feel I should share!

    So misinformed. It is becoming increaingly uncomfortable to watch Americans embarass themselves due to lack of knowledge in how the rest of the Western world manages Universal Healthcare. We are not Socialists- we are socially aware. We take care of all people- not just ourselves. Tha money we save on healthcare can be applied to our children’s much more affordable University educations. We are not slaves to HMO”s and self serving insurance companies.

    We do sponsor private enterprise. Our seniors have the best healthcare in the world. We would not allow a Sarah Palin to continue to promote herself through gross misinformation to the grossly misinformed- she would be laughed out of Canada- and the rest of the world- and is! We are not loosing our homes. Our children not only are covered through University, but he Universities provide supplemental coverage including prescriptions and emergency dental!! We do not have government sponsored abortions- ridiculous!

    I wish the US via the media would stop putting it’s worse foot forward- you are starting to look foolish! For a country that promotes itself as civilized, you are beginning to look anything but! Please try and recapture the national pride that Obama tries to promote- and listen to Jo-ann from Iowa!

    August 12, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  5. Allean Hinton

    You say Debate? What debate?
    I see individuals collective rallied around -operating on pure pure high emotion. They are oblivious to the fact that they have not even asked a question, listened for an answer, engaged in debatable dialouge; no issues have been discussed, at all.It has all the trappings of mob mentality. I'm all for intelligently and reasonable debate.....but this? No.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  6. Don

    CNN adds to the problem.

    They don't follow up or do true indepth interviews, when people are on their shows. This often allows lies and distortions of the facts to be put on the air.

    While watching CNN, there was a man saying that Medicare pushed insurances companies out of business for the older generation (with no follow-up from the CNN represeniative).

    This is not accurate and if not an out and out lie, at least a gross distortion of the facts.

    I wonder why reporters and commentators on CNN do not follow up.

    For example, before Medicare, insurance companies did not offer affordable insurance to seniors. A majority of seniors could not afford any type of insurance.

    Second example, many if not most seniors have pre-existing conditions and the insurance companies did or would not not insure them.

    But it appears that any one with any stature can say any thing on CNN and not be taken to task !

    August 12, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  7. Carole

    @ Kim...........It is sad that only in my beloved United States of America that people are protesting 'better' health care. Sad. I too wonder what the world is thinking.

    I also feel that the Republicans think this is a great thing for them. What are they going to look like when the current system fails?

    More sad, is if you look at these crowd there is a theme for the most part. They are White and mostly middle aged. They no doubt have Medicare or Medicaid. I think we should end those government programs and quit taking them out of my taxes. Then, see how much they will act out.

    To the people who want their country back. What is that about? Black President? To these racists, the American Indians want their country back from you stealing it. Accept the new diversity of the country. That is the sleeping giant.

    August 12, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  8. Kim

    Wke up America!!! You are embarassing yourselves infront of the world. I am a former pro American Canadian who wonders how the world's so called 1st nation can be so grossly misinformed and selfish.

    We Canadians pay for our Health Care thru our taxes. We do treat elderly, do not sponsor non medical abortions. When we have major medical issues everything is covered. Our employers provide supplemental care- semi private coverage dental, life insurance etc. We do not care only about ourselves and not our neighbors. WE ARE NOT RULED BY HMO'S AND MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WITH THE WALL STREET MENTALITY- AND LOOK WHERE WALL STREET IS TODAY!!! WE ARE NOT RULED BY INSURANCE COMPANIES WHO ONLY HAVE THEIR OWN INTEREST IN MIND! Our banks are not defaulting. WE ARE NOT LOOSING OUR HOMES. WE ARE LOOSING DOCTORS TO THE US WHERE THEY CAN TRIPLE THEIR INCOME- THAT SHOULD BE A WAKE UP CALL!!!!!

    Our children are covered under our supplemental plans for the duration of their education. Our University tuition- vastly lower than US,- includes supplemental health, drug and emergency dental for all students!!!!- probably why the number of US students is growing!! WE ARE NOT SOCIALIST!!!

    Canadian are tired of the US whining- you have a President who wants the best for his country. Your news broadcasts show the worst possible behavior- seniors rioting- lovely.. More money is wasted debating issues than establishing them! You allow grossly misinformed individuals such as Sarah Palin to feed the populous with false and often inflammitory information- she makes you country look foolish. She further promotes the US as a country of misinformed, racist red necks- she is not conservative, she is self serving , misinformes and rather dangerous. Her followers are fools and deserve what they get.

    We do not rquire 2 years of expense to hold a Federal election- 4 months is sufficient. Those expenses alone would go along way in establishing programs such as univeral health care!!

    Wake up America- get informed- stop showing the world your weakness. It is embarassing to watch.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:46 am |
  9. george RITTER

    Some of us Canucks are just rolling on the floor laughing at how dumb (deliberately dumbed down to the lowest dumb–hate) your debate on health care has gotten.

    I suggest ANYONE (who can dialogue politely) that is really interested in hearing how Medicare works in Canada ...CALL A CANADIAN

    yes, that country north of you? where EVERYONE has medical coverage and contrary to the (brain) spin-doctors and word/logic-molestors you call political commentors,, Canuckistan, is not a commie stronghold.

    I have never, ever, had anything but good service, quality help and improved health in my experiences in Canadian hospitals from big cities, to tiny outposts in the high arctic. Yes ER is usually busy, everywhere. BUT YOU GET HELP...AND IT IS ALL FREE.

    So, if you can figure out where Canada is, even while overcome with brain rabies induced by rabid jingoist insurance company financed, stockholm-syndromed "citizens" snapping frenzedly at both logic and truth (as they did in the Clinton years)...reach out and call a random if you don't know anyone here. Or maybe we Commies can put together hotlines, assigning randomly selected Canadiian phone numbers to each US caller.


    ...please call and we'll try help you think

    August 12, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  10. carole ezell-bell





    August 12, 2009 at 9:09 am |
  11. Mark

    Amazing how several poster start off by saying "I believe in Free Speech BUT" Then they go on to narrow down what speech is acceptable and who should be allowed in the debate. Those that say I believe in Free Speech, but are really in favor of fascist domination and removing those who disagree with their pet defined parameters.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  12. Calvin Roach

    I believe in the freedom of speech but I do not believe in people making false statements to excite a riot, Rush Limbaugh and his followers that wants the United States to fail are internal terrorist. The liberty that we have to exercise the second amendment against tyrannys is just that (A. Hamilton). Tyrants are government individuals that intentionally mislead or lie to the public about issues. The US Federal Government has an obligation to remove tyrants from the government and if they are unwilling the public has the liberty to remove the tyrants, US Supreme Court, (Washington DC v. Heller). Majority Americans voted for a public option and the party that did not pervail is out in full force to oppose the majority. I ask every senator, especially republicans to outreach in your state and dismiss the untruths about health care; even if you oppose health care. The people deserve the truth and each politician that remains quiet on this issue and refuse to dispell false information is quilty of ommission to the American People and are a TYRANT. I ask you to do what you are in office to do and vote your concience but oppose the bill on the truth, not lies.


    I am a retired military soldier and covered under the government PUBLIC OPTION, (TRICARE).

    Calvin Roach
    Sierra Vista, AZ

    August 12, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  13. Pat

    I think some of those who are attending town hall meetings are people who did not vote for "change" during this past election and they will do and say anything that opposes the President's policies, views, etc. I guess you could call them "sour grapes." They want a do-nothing government that leaves them alone. What they don't understand is, a lot of them are beneficiaries of government. They either receive Social Security, Medicare, and a number of other "government" benefits" No one will ever convince them that health reform is needed.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  14. cherie wilder

    The health care debate is being talked about every where.While discussing it with a friend of 25 years. She told me that her sister whose husband is a retiree from GM had insurance. She felt since her sister had never worked a day in her life that she did not deserve to have health insurance. Her own sister! Another thought her own parents because they smoke should not have health care coverage.If these people can throw their own family under the bus they certainly don't care about fellow Americans who are with out health care. Most of the people I have talked to seem to think that they will be paying for people who don't work. I have tried to explain that those people are already covered by the govt. with health care. The people who really need this coverage are the working poor and middle class who can't afford to pay the high premiums of health care. At the beginning of each town meeting I would like to see a poll done to see how many of the protesters have health care. I guess a lot of people think as long as I'm okay to hell with everyone else. I am not sure of every detail of this bill,but, I am willing to listen. I am not sure where all the anger is coming from.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  15. SF

    I am so tired of hearing racism when the American Public is speaking.
    The government has not produced a hard copy plan of the health care proposal-they have created this fear. A hard copy should be produced-in English and then go forward from that point-BUT I sincerely believe that the President will grant Amnesty with this healthcare plan...that is the trade off. Illegal immagrints and healthcare-once again it seems that the death of our loved ones, the sweat of our grandparents for America will be ignored...and this will cause an uproar....

    August 12, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  16. Janet Glazier

    Most of the people complaining are probably on Medicare and Social Security.Ask them if they're willing to give that up.After all it's the government paying them for it.Is that Socialism?

    August 12, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  17. Leonard

    I believe in free speech obviously but I know that there are certain restriction on it and I am surprised that all of these lies and defamatory remarks are not being handles better.
    The President needs to continue to do what he is doing but I think that at some point he is going to have to make a primetime news conference to speak the truth about this reform before the conservative extremists win the "hearts and minds" of our less educated and easily scared fellow citizens.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  18. jean

    It may seem that the debate over health care is too rowdy because cnn coverage favors oboma. Cnn did not show any questions asked against health care bills just the anoyed representitives. Cnn just had on Rep Scott and did not ask about the health care questions being asked at the end of a forum on something else. Rep Scott asked for any quesitons on anything and then go angry someone dissagreed with he healt care views.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  19. marseyas

    I am tired of listening to CNN and other media outlets defend the behavior of the rude and disrespectful of townhall participants as freedom of speech. The Senators are there to listen and take back suggestions and frustrations to Congress to create a better bill or simply discard the bill all together. The abuse of free speech to attack representatives of our Country should not be tolerated and I believe CNN and more media should point this out. From the interview of the MOM that was participating and filming Sen. Arlen Specter, it was clear that a wolf in sheep clothing was being interviewed. You did not answer any of the questions directly. Especially the questions directed toward the behavior of participants. It was clear she did want to criticize the behavior because she was a part of it by encourage it all the while acting overly concerned and emotional.

    Then you have Sarah Palin and her lies. You guys treated this with kids gloves as well as others. I am not saying the media should go after anyone individually. However, your attempt to present "balance coverage" is contributing to the problem because the town hall meetings are not "balanced" Instead they are full of mostly bigots and republicans that want to hijack this very important discussion.

    The truth-o-meter does not have any impact here. It's important that our media expose the lies and conspiracy to hijack this discussion in a more direct way so this "discussion" can be fair and balanced.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  20. Scott Cameron

    Whoever said we have the best healthcare in the world hasn't traveled outside of the US lately. How can someone possible say that when we have 40 million uninsured. I suggest the writer vacations in Scandanavia or Western Europe and see what the people there think of their healthcare. They pay less per capa and get much more than we do. We are a country of haves and have nots as the middle class in our country is quickly eroding away. I wish the media would quit wondering where all the "misinformation" is coming from and just take the responsibility for it because, yes I feel it's the media spreading all this hate and misinformation. Fox news along with Jeff Beck and Bill O"Reilley should share some of the blame along with all the dittoheads following Rush Limbaugh. There has to be a line drawn in the sand between first amendment rights and threats to our national security by inciting people by deliberate misinformation. The Canadians and the British have seen this coming and their supreme courts have defined that line. I think it's high time the USA did this also before someone gets hurt. I still feel that O'Reilley is partially responsible for the murder of the abortion doctor. What happened to civility in this country. The wingnuts on both sides will not be moved from their prespective positions and it's sad to see objective, truthful debate go out the window. The American people are not mad as stated on CNN, but the radical few are getting to much air time as proven by the recent polls done by CNN. Most people want change and I feel the same way, but it will only happen when people get over the hate and all the misinformation.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  21. Leonard

    I am very concerned with the lies and scare tactics that are being used and endorsed by the Republican party and thier conservative extremist group. They must not have any viable alternative to offer because all I seem to hear is references to Hitler and socialism as well as chaos in town hall meetings that showcase peoples fears because they have been fed these lies.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:16 am |
  22. Stacy

    I am listening to this Katie Abrams speaking on CNN right now and she is making me laugh. Does she not realize that Medicare and Medicaid are government run entities and they are helping a great deal of individuals who cannot afford healthcare obtain it.

    We do not have a perfect system. Not by a longshot but at least this government is trying to do something to help the citizens of the United States.

    Instead of putting out falsehoods and fear stories. Let us find out about these bills ourselves and then comment.

    Our forefathers were the government and they formed a union to ensure that things were ran efficiently and accordingly. Not saying that it actually did but at least they tried.

    The republicans want to point the finger at the democrats and vice-versa.....stop pointing and get to work for the American People.

    August 12, 2009 at 6:25 am |
  23. Stacy

    This is so beyond stupidity. I have sat and watched people act like children over issues that they don't even have a clue as to if that issue they are crapping about is a real issue. There is a great deal of hearsay and not enough reading and listening.

    I have a great concern about this healtcare bill and I am in the mind that we need to ask pertinent questions in a respectful manner (even if we are feeling quite passionate).

    I do know that these hecklers do know who to mess with. Believe me, they would not dare do their crap in the presence of the President. As for the young man who had his gun on him....what was the purpose. Regardless of whether he had a permit....why bring it to a town hall meeting....what was his agenda?

    People pleeeeeaaaasssseee give me a break.

    As far as katie abrams.....what does the constitution and the forefathers have to do with the healthcare issue of today? She was way off subject and it was not the place for the forum that was being presented.

    My final conclusion..............GROW UP PEOPLE!! Instead of talking and YELLING AT people.....try to talk to and listen to people.

    August 12, 2009 at 6:16 am |
  24. Ericka

    I believe that the people that we are seeing at the Town Hall meetings are the same people we saw during the election. The same people who were yelling at those town hall meetings.
    The voters who elected President Obama are not represented at the meetings. Yes, there are many people who do not agree with the President's health plan. There are also many who agree, we are just not at these meetings.

    August 12, 2009 at 1:25 am |
  25. June

    I would like to understand how a person over 65 can come to a town hall meeting protesting against a government run health care plan when they are enrolled in one,,,Medicare. If it is so bad, maybe we should disolve Medicare and let all seniors choose and pay for their insurance coverage the way the rest of us do. You would really hear protests then.

    August 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  26. Sooner

    This is nothing but a demonstration in ignorance of the facts. I for one, and my family, support the health care bill because we stay on top of the issues. But with that said, this issue comes down to whether you want a corporate CEO decide who doesn't get covered or fully covered or the government insuring everone is covered.
    What is the right so paranoid about? They are acting like a bunch of wild animals at the town hall meetings. It truly demonstrates less than average intelligence, but what else would you expect from these ditto heads.

    August 11, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
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