TOPICS > Health

Obama Renews Public Appeal on Health Care

BY Lea Winerman  August 11, 2009 at 4:13 PM EST

Pres. Obama at Portsmouth, N.H. town hall; Getty Images

“Where we disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that don’t bear any resemblance to anything that’s actually being proposed,” the president said.

Listen to the full meeting here:

The town hall was the first of three the president has scheduled this week, all aimed at pushing back against critics of health care reform. He is also aiming to convince a core group of voters — the many millions of people who already have health insurance — that health care reform is vital to their interests as well, by criticizing insurance company practices he aims to change.

On Tuesday, he spoke about how insurance companies deny coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions.

“I believe it is wrong; it is bankrupting families and businesses and that is why we’re going to pass health insurance reform,” he said.

On Friday, Obama is scheduled to hold a town hall in Bozeman, Mont., where he will talk about how insurance companies can drop coverage of people once they are diagnosed with an illness. And on Saturday, he will speak in Grand Junction, Colo., about the rise in out-of-pocket costs such as co-payments and deductibles.

The president also decried what he called the “scare tactics” of his opponents. He singled out former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — without mentioning her by name — who last week said that the Obama administration’s health reform plans would create “death panels” that would make end-of-life decisions on some citizens.

The president said that the legislation was the idea of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and that it would simply allow people more access to end-of-life care.

“Somehow it’s gotten spun into this idea of death panels,” he said. “I’m not in favor of that.”

On Monday’s NewsHour, Judy Woodruff asked health experts about the end-of-life controversy and potential changes to Medicare as part of the reform effort.

Raucous protesters gathered outside the forum at Portsmouth High School. One woman held up a sign that said “Nobama Deathcare,” according to the Washington Post. Another held a sign with the President’s face superimposed on a Nazi stormtrooper, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But the scene inside the hall was generally civil and most of the questions were straightforward, in contrast to the scenes at many town halls held by Democratic lawmakers in the past week. Those have been interrupted by rowdy protesters.

At a meeting Tuesday in Lebanon, Penn., for example, Sen. Arlen Specter faced a hostile audience that booed, heckled and shouted questions at him.

Republicans have called the protests a reflection of public anger at the president’s health care reform plan, while some Democrats have accused Republicans and other groups of sanctioning mob tactics and organizing the protests to “manufacture” public anger.