Local News

Butterfield holds town hall on Obama health plan

Posted August 11, 2009
Updated August 12, 2009

— One of North Carolina's strongest backers of President Barack Obama in Congress held a town hall meeting in Rocky Mount Tuesday evening to discuss health care reform.

Hundreds show up for health care forum Hundreds show up for health care forum

First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield took on the hot-button issue at Parker Middle School, 1500 East Virginia St.

"You are paying more and more, and getting less and less (health care),” Butterfield told the crowd.

Tensions quickly rose as people from opposing sides took to the podium to address the more than 550 people in attendance.

“I agree with the core element of providing health care for all. Those who are opposed to it have not offered any alternatives," a reform supporter told the crowd.

"If this Obama bill is so great, does that mean that the Senate and House members will be on the same health care we are on?" a reform opponent said.

Much of the health care debate centers on the public option, which would create a government-sponsored health insurance plan for people who cannot obtain other coverage. Obama backs the plan as a way to guarantee that every American has health insurance, but opponents say a government-run plan would increase bureaucracy, and raise the costs of private insurers.

The White House turned to the Internet this week to challenge what the administration contends are misconceptions about the proposal. The government’s Web site takes on claims made by critics that the changes would result in rationing of health care, encourage euthanasia or endanger Medicare.

"Without question there are a lot of misleading rumors on news reports and on the Internet. We are trying to do all we can to make sure accurate information is given to the American people," Butterfield told WRAL News before the town hall meeting.

"I am confident that if Americans have the right information, then they will be able to make the right decision with respect to this issue."

Conservative critics have used public forums to express their anger about efforts to alter the health care system.

Democrats say the conservatives are trying to make a point by disrupting the events and trying to shame Congress members. Some events across the country have been marked by pushing and shouting matches by those in attendance.

With police monitoring the crowd, Rocky Mount’s town hall attendees did not get physical but there were plenty of outbursts.

"They (the government) are going to take care of us like they do prisoners,” a reform opponent told the crowd.

A reform supporter shouted, "We need health care for everyone.”

Butterfield said he plans to host additional health care discussions in the future.

Thirteenth District Congressman Brad Miller said a death threat was phoned into his office over the reform issue. He plans to meet with small groups on both sides of the debate instead of holding a public forum.

While Miller met Friday with members of a group called Triangle Conservatives, scores of people lined St. Mary's Street outside his Raleigh office to express opposition to Obama's proposal.

Miller and fellow congressmen David Price and Bob Etheridge held a private discussion of health care Monday. Eleventh District Congressman Heath Shuler will hold a telephone news conference on the subject Thursday.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • daisey Aug 13, 2009

    Mako, the post office example was in reference to DEAR LEADER saying that FEDEX/UPS are doing well while the Post Office isn't!!!!

    He said that during his townhall info session with planted Obama supporters as to use that as an example of how great government health care plan would be. Are you kidding me?

    Don't worry Dear Leader won't be criticized by his followers or the media (same difference.

    BTW I am not and have never been a Republican. Again, let me be clear (to borrow a phrase) competition is key. And you mention Auto Ins. You mean the stuff that is privatized that you can buy across state lines...yeah, great example.

    Next you will be calling us racist b/c we don't agree. Was it racist or sexist when Hillary Clinton proposed universal healthcare? This has nothing to do with Dear Leader's Skin tone or party affiliation (which is the same as mine). This is about growing the imperial federal government. Are you reporting us to flag@whitehouse.gov for fishy information posted?

  • whatusay Aug 12, 2009

    Mako, Obama is for a single payer system. He campaigned on it. He will say anything to get this bill passed and he knows Americans are overwhelmingly against a single payer plan. Many of the democrats writing this bill have also recently expressed their desire for a single payer plan. Don't know when you heard him say he was against it. He has somewhat changed his tone on many of the issues to try to get the seniors and Catholics (abortion) on his side, but again, he will say anything to get their support and then do the opposite.

  • Aug 12, 2009


    My insurance, BCBS has denied me coverage for a common diagnostic test. An MRI for a sports injury of the back.

    I pay, I don't get coverage.

    I've paid over $2,000 in co-pays (a lot more in real fees) for tests and doctors that STILL haven't diagnosed me, because they can't SEE what is wrong.

    I've been in pain for over a year. Still in pain. Nice LACK or REAL coverage with my "health" insurance.

    Oh, btw, I've been offered opiates, but I refused them. I'd rather cure the problem, than be high. Unlike your hero, Rush.
    August 12, 2009 9:22 a.m.
    Report abuse

    My friend...At least today, that is YOUR choice, as it was Rush's choice to deal with his Pain.....Just Sayin'

  • prn13norm Aug 12, 2009

    Elderly: "Committee of Death"
    Abortion: Government funded on demand
    Financial: Economy ruining
    Service: Rationed service
    Enough said!

  • original intent Aug 12, 2009

    mako..I called Bush out...the Patriot act is unconstitutional..and him spending like he was Democrat-Lite turned me against him....

  • original intent Aug 12, 2009

    I hear you mako....I think the Supreme Court actually ruled against Madison,Jefferson,et al....EVEN though both stated that promote the general welfare was NOT an all encompassing statement..of course congressmen can be voted OUT...one way or another!!

  • MakoII Aug 12, 2009

    What about your Auto Insurance? Has it caused mayhem to the population? Are it's price controls putting private insurers out of business? Aren't many of YOU paying for the accidents of others and yet haven't had one yourself?

    This Government Option of the Health Care Reform bill is not ever THAT controlling as auto insurance is.

    Yet I don't see anyone calling Auto Insurance a "Government Takeover" and "Socialism"!

    You are crying wolf so bad you wouldn't know the real thing IF it actually WAS happening.

  • MakoII Aug 12, 2009

    All this talk about what will REALLY happen is immaterial.

    The comparisons to the post office boxes is inane. That doesn't even make sense. I get my UPS and FedEx packages delivered to my doorstep. A great deal closer than the Post Office delivers my mail. But the Post Office ALSO uses my doorstep to deliver packages. You can put up a UPS mailbox if you wish. Or a newspaper one. It's a FREE country.

    You really can't argue THE PLAN. You just have to make up stuff. Stuff that hasn't happened except in your fertile and biased minds. Stuff that ISN'T happening but is being fed to you buy some deranged source that isn't factual.

    Even REPUBLICANS on TV are having to Apologize for Republicans who spread some of these insane myths that don't exist in the real plan.

    You want it to fail not because of the Plan, it's Merits or lack of Merits, but because of Whom and Who are proposing it.

    THAT is illogical.

  • MakoII Aug 12, 2009

    The Constitution says Congress can make laws and it's preamble does say "provide for the general welfare" although that doesn't quite mean today what it meant then, but it's not hard to pin down what was meant as the whole thing was highly debated at the time.

    In any case, I don't see much of a difference here from Bush.

    Bush oversaw the Federal Health program. No one called for dismantling THAT "socialist" program.

    Bush oversaw huge expenditures, a steep increase in the size of government and the initial Stimulus package, no one called him "Socialist"

    Bush and Republicans in Congress passed a large unfunded Medicare Drug Program and no one called him a "Socialist".

    Bush put in place government programs to wiretap American phone lines, avoided SECRET judge panels required by law, fired and appointed Justice Dept. officials illegally due to politics AFTER they were on the job and no one in the Republican party decried it as a "Government Takeover".

  • daisey Aug 12, 2009

    Amazingly enough the government is already mandating to insurance companies and have been. Each state's government tell the insurance companies that want to operate in each state exactly what must be included in an insurance plan. That's why rates vary from state to state and for example policies in Delaware must include hair replacement.

    In my opinion the health insurance not care can be reformed by letting us buy our policies across state borders like we do for auto insurance. Competition is key.

    On another note FEDEX and UPS are only allowed to compete with the USPS on delivering packages they are not allowed to deliver first class mail in our mailboxes by the government. What do you think will happen to companies that try to compete with the government?

    And please quit calling this health care reform. It's not. Everyone has access to health care. I know from experience while not having health insurance that you can still be seen and work out payment plans with the doctor