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Common theme for health care opponents: No to big government

Posted August 12, 2009
Updated August 13, 2009

— Americans are jeering and ranting at lawmakers' health care forums in North Carolina and across the country.

Jeers and taunts at Lillington health care forum Raucous crowd gathers for Lillington town hall

Many of those raising their voices and fists at the town halls have never been politically active. Many opponents say their frustration was born earlier this year with government bailouts and big spending bills, and has simmered in the recession.

President Barack Obama has proposed a government-sponsored health insurance plan aimed at providing all Americans with coverage, but opponents say it would increase bureaucracy and raise the costs of private insurers.

"It is direct democracy, even though it is not perhaps pretty democracy,” Peace College political science professor David McLennan said of the bitter sessions.

A lot of the contention centers over government involvement and what McLennan calls the "two worlds of health care."

"The people who have good health care really don't want it to be toyed with. On the other side, you have people who are under-insured or have no insurance at all who will take anything,” McLennan said.

Donald Taylor, an assistant professor of public policy at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, said the government already has a role in health care: Medicare. Taylor also said there is confusion over what changes reform would bring.

“There are really five plans in Congress right now,” he added.

Taylor said Obama will have to lay out specifics on what he wants health care reform to look like if he wants to save it.

"He is probably going to be wise to go ahead and be a little clearer about what he wants,” Taylor said.

The health care debate has also picked up steam due to organized opposition. The insurance industry lobby, America's Health Insurance Plans, is encouraging workers to attend town halls, as is the group Conservatives for Patients' Rights.

Another group, Americans for Prosperity, has two buses emblazoned with the slogan "Hands off our Health Care!" that are traveling around the country to rallies and town halls. At the town halls, volunteers circulate petitions opposing any legislation allowing greater government involvement.

The Americans for Prosperity group recently wrapped up a week-long campaign called "Patients First" in Raleigh.

Crowd gathers at town hall in Lillington

In Lillington, Second District Congressman Bob Etheridge faced a raucous crowd of more than 200 people Wednesday night at Central Carolina Community College.

"It is a work in process; it is not completed," Etheridge said of Obama's plan.

Tensions quickly rose as people from opposing sides took to the podium.

"None of you have ever had to look in the face of somebody dying and they got to worry about a (medical) bill," a reform supporter told the crowd.

Others left little doubt that they are not happy with what's on the table.

"Why can't we let free-market solutions work instead of having government interference in the market?" a reform opponent said.

Hundreds of other people who showed up for the town hall were turned away when the room reached capacity.  Those people started an impromptu debate in the parking lot.

“If people can't make a profit, who is going to pay taxes?" Anthony Mangum asked.

“You can make a profit on some things, but my health should not be at the benefit of your profit,” Josh Wynne said.

McLennan said he is not surprised by the shouting that has dominated the meetings.

"Policy is shaped by even angry reaction,” he said.

McLennan said the reform being discussed is a costly and far-reaching task.

"People are seeing this as hundreds of billions of dollars, on top of hundreds of billions of dollars, and it's becoming difficult for people to really comprehend,” McLennan added.

Etheridge agreed that revamping the nation's health care system is not easy.

"I think it is very difficult,” he added.

Fourth District Congressman David Price will hold a town hall meeting Thursday at the Miller-Morgan Building on the North Carolina Central University Campus in Durham.

Eleventh District Congressman Heath Shuler will also hold a telephone news conference on the subject Thursday.

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


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  • mep Aug 14, 2009

    ahuber99... sadly what you believe about the current reform bill and pre-existing conditions is not true. There will be some pre-existing conditions that an insurance plan, including the govt plan will not accept. You gotta dig to find it, but those conditions not covered will be determined by the health advisory committee, a board of 27... and only one of them a physician.


  • daisey Aug 14, 2009

    @plenty coups:

    I understand what you're saying and we are a family of 4. We have had to pay up front for ear surgery for our son. Blood work at Duke for our daughter, but we also budget for those things and work out payment plans with the offices. So we have had to pay about $5000 out of pocket.

    That has nothing to do with being healthy or you being snarky about it. I am just using that as an example as why we have a high deductible.

    I also think that like auto insurance we should be able to buy across state lines. I think that insurance should be a build your own type, BUT the state government not the insurance companies dictate what must be covered even if it isn't needed.

    Just wondering and not being critical, but why aren't you taking your child to a pediatrician? Why does this only happen at night as you said?

    And I disagree with you about profits. The government should never dictate how much in profits a company or person can make....sorry that's just a slippery slope.

  • ahuber99 Aug 14, 2009

    As someone with Crohn's disease who will always be nailed with a Pre-existing Condition if my insurance ever lapses or outright denied coverage because I'm considered 'high risk', I am glad to hear that the government is going to step in and help people like me. When I graduated college, I had to face facts that I could never be a freelance artist or writer because I would never get health insurance. My only choice was to go work for a big company with good health insurance. Under Obama's health plan, people in 'high risk' situations like me won't have to throw away their dreams just to get good health insurance. I applaud Obama for his health plan that will help anyone that needs health insurance, regardless of 'pre-existing conditions' or 'high risk'.

  • ncblue2 Aug 14, 2009

    justcommonsense wrote it:

    We can do something about the illegals here..Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower all did in their time...During the depression Hoover ordered deportation for all illegals to provide jobs for citizens. Truman deported over 2 million after WWII to create jobs for returning veterans and in 1954 Eisenhower deported 13 million illegal Mexican Nationals.


    So, technically can be done. Neal Boortz says that we do even need to do it. Just deny them for all jobs, welfare, heath care, and education services according to our laws in books and they will deport themselves.

  • ncblue2 Aug 14, 2009

    believer58 wrote it:

    You will never get what you pay for until the 25+ million illegals who have bankrupted our healthcare and education systems are addressed and dealt with.

    Either deport them and allow then to enter legally like all immigrants before them.....or put them on the books and make them pay their fair share.

    Your medical services are too high because, like your auto insurance, you are sur-charged for the uninsured. Those who choose not to pay do so at my expense and yours. That angers me much, much more than some CEO driving a "smancier car"


    This root cause has not been address by the bill. In fact, there are NO procedures, verification steps to ensure that ONLY LEGAL citizens or immigrants will get ObamaCare.

  • mep Aug 13, 2009

    Plently Coups.... I understand your frustration. My daughter has life threatening food allergies. Every day I wonder if she will accidentally eat something that might require an ER visit. However... I would GLADLY pay as much money as it takes, including the loss of my home, cars, and retirement to ensure my daughters life. And IF I were to lose everything because of a medical bill that SAVED MY DAUGHTERS LIFE, I would not cry a river of tears over all that I gave up for her. Nor would I feel cheated, because maybe someone else did not have to give up as much as I did because they had better insurance than me.

    If I were you, I'd see if your doctor/insurance company can suggest anything other than ER or even self treatment options for your sons condition. Best of luck.

  • justcommonsense Aug 13, 2009

    as to the comments I've seen about the illegals are here and we need to learn to live with it??? What nonsense is that? I do not wish to provide medical care and education for those who are here illegally and pay nothing into the very system they use. Not when there are so many who cannot afford premiums or have no insurance due to the unemployment that is so rampant.

    We can do something about the illegals here..Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower all did in their time...During the depression Hoover ordered deportation fo all illegals to provide jobs for citizens. Truman deported over 2 million after WWII to create jobs for returning veterans and in 1954 Eisenhower deported 13 million illegal Mexican Nationals....GOLO won't let me post the name of the operation ..look it up...to protect/provide jobs for returning Korean veterans. It took 2 years but he did it...why can't we? Because we've become too soft and have been to involved in our own little worlds. ...ah well...no man is an island

  • justcommonsense Aug 13, 2009

    I do believe that we need change in the healthcare system. I do NOT believe in this bill. It is full of ambiguity and outright unhealthy for us. There is a way to have a national healthcare program without it costing trillions and to have good care. I know many co-workers across the pond and are quite satisfied with their system. By the way, with the exception of AIG...the big bailouts were not to insurance companies...it was the banking,mortgage and auto industry. The biggest payouts to the baning industry. By the way folks...BCBS is a "non-profit" insurance company...yet their rates are as high as anyone elses. Yes, execs get big bonuses for meeting performance goals..but it's not my tax dollars paying for it. I have no problem using some of my tax dollars to provide care for those who need it...or at least leveling the playing field some

  • Darkside Aug 13, 2009

    Thank you PRESIDENT Obama for moving forward with Healthcare reform! Forget the whiners on this blog. Remember NC is OBAMA Country!

  • etshoney Aug 13, 2009

    Wait until you hear old man Price spew the Dems talking points. That is ALL he does. He is in the pocket of Nancy Pelosi and hasn't had an original thought in 10 years. A week ago he was much TOO BUSY to have a town hall. Now he has time to have one in Durham at the peak of rush hour for all those in the southern part of the county. (gerrymandered district). When is he coming down hear to talk to the people who pay taxes and want nothing to do with this plan?