August 11th, 2009
03:44 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama: Status quo is scarier than health-care overhaul


The President held a town hall on health care with voters in New Hampshire Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) - President Barack Obama complained Tuesday about opposition scare tactics against a proposed health-care overhaul, but said failing to fix problems in the current system would be the scariest outcome of all.

Obama addressed a supportive town hall meeting here that contrasted with combative events held by Democratic Congress members that have generated heated and sometimes disruptive responses. Earlier Tuesday, a hostile crowd shouted questions and made angry statements against proposed health-care legislation at a Pennsylvania meeting led by Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.

Obama and Democratic leaders have accused opponents of health-care changes of organizing protests intended to drown out the debate, while Republicans respond the public anger is a genuine response to what they call excessive and misguided legislation.

In New Hampshire, Obama welcomed a "vigorous" debate as part of the democratic process, but said people should talk "with each other and not over each other." He criticized "wild misrepresentations" by special interests trying to undermine health-care legislation before Congress.

In particular, Obama rejected rumors that a health-care bill passed by a House committee included setting up so-called "death panels" to decide if senior citizens get treatment. He called spreading such rumors a long-standing practice by opponents of health-care reform, such as "those who profit under the status quo."

"What is really scary, what is really risky, is to do nothing," Obama said, noting that premiums paid for health-care coverage were rising three times faster than wages and that the government-run Medicare program for senior citizens would run out of money within a decade.

In a new twist at such forums, Obama specifically asked for questions from opponents of health-care legislation to address issues of concern.

He repeated past guarantees that a health-care overhaul won't force anyone to give up health insurance they like and won't cut Medicare benefits, and he stood by his election pledge that he won't raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year.

At the same time, Obama defended his call for a government-funded public health insurance option to compete against private insurers. He said such an option would hold down rates, rejecting accusations it amounted to a government takeover of health care because private companies can't compete with a government-funded plan.

"UPS and FedEx are doing just fine," Obama said, referring to private courier services that compete with the U.S. Postal Service. "It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

The atmosphere was different at Specter's morning event in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where angry questioners made emotional statements against health-care proposals that they likened to a socialist takeover of the country. One man who shouted an unsolicited comment was shoved by another, prompting Specter to intervene while warning that those disrupting the meeting would be thrown out.

Videos of other protests circulating on the Internet show raucous crowds heckling their representatives in Congress and carrying posters with devil horns drawn on lawmakers' heads, swastikas, or Obama with Adolf Hitler's mustache drawn on his face.

The White House has launched what it calls a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check Web site designed to combat what the administration considers misinformation about the issue. The Web page features Obama aides discussing various aspects of health-care reform.

However, the Web site prompted Republican complaints that Obama's government would use it to compile a list of enemies. Obama rejected that accusation too.

He called a health-care overhaul essential for ensuring long-term economic stability while ensuring that that virtually all Americans have access to health insurance.

"The status quo is not working for you," Obama said to applause.

Congressional action on a health-care overhaul has slowed due to strong Republican opposition. Neither chamber met Obama's desired goal of passing a bill before their August recess.

In particular, Republicans and some Democrats reject the proposed public option, which they believe will lead to a government takeover of the health-care system and prove too costly.

Filed under: Health care • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. mike,Texas

    If you want to convert this supporter of the bill ,just give me the page and line numbers saying this bill is mandatory ,not an option or creates death squds and you will win my support against this bill.Any takers or are all of you non-suppoters just frauds.

    August 11, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. ETM

    Health care is a human right and must be affordable for all. I applaud the president for fighting for this. It is time for the US to catch up to the rest of the industrialized world.

    August 11, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. deebee

    Healthcare is a privilege not a right – you want healthcare get off your lay butt and get a job – work for it like I do. The programs that need "reform" – Medicare and Medicaid are government ran agencies and they are broke. Can you imagine the government trying to run healthcare for everyone in the nation??? That is the scariest thought. You want to cut cost in healthcare, then reform the legal system and stop senseless lawsuits against medical professionals. Insurance companies don't run my healthcare I do. I make informed decisions regarding treatments and cost. Get an education people!

    August 11, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. Steve, Columbia SC

    No, Mr President. Your democrats in Congress and their proposed health care reform legislation is by far scarier than doing nothing.

    We are not idiots, and please don't try to scare us. We are not buying what you're trying to sell.

    August 11, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Rob

    I just love this comment made by the president.....'UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the Post Office that's always having problems'. So gov't healthcare would be different i suppose??? I dont think so!! If you people who support the bill actually do some research instead of just drooling and nodding your head with everything he says. In the bill on Page 29 lines 4-16. "YOUR HEALTHCARE WILL BE RATIONED" Oh know I speak the truth what are you going to do turn me into Obama truth squad.

    August 11, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    No, wasting trillions of dollars we don't have is the scary part.

    August 11, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. b/augusta

    Why the combative nature of these people who oppose the President's plan is beyond me. He campaigned on health care changes. It has been noted that the debate over health care is a quarter century old, and nothing has been done. President Obama has the courage to step up to the plate. Republicans are not concerened about health care; they just want to see the president fail. I have news for you. The President is committed and God is on his side. I

    August 11, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. Independent Again

    Google Barbara Wagner. See how Oregon's universal healthcare worked out really well for her.

    Yeah I'm sure euthanasia was not in the Oregon Healthcare Bill legislation too!!

    Don't take a Rocket scientist to figure out where this is headed.. Unfortunately the kool-aid drinkers require special needs.

    August 11, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. Pam

    In response to someone's blog condemning the media for capturing some Americans voicing their views rather adamantly, the media cannot cover only the town hall meetings where no one embarrasses themselves. However, it was reassuring to view the New Hampshire meeting, to see people conducting themselves respectfully.

    I am also reassured that, even though people from both parties disagree on what the health reform should look like, we are now beginning to talk some of the same language–that some kind of reform must happen.

    August 11, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Vets4Obama

    You know, there would be a HUGE amount of people supporting Obama, even more then the current majority that already is. True americans.

    The only problem is, they are all dead because of our current health care system.

    August 11, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. anti liberal

    arlen specter is at the current moment having explained to him the increasing debt by an 18 year old at the lewisburg town hall.

    He basically said he won't be voting for the bill. The citizens of pennsylvania need to REMEMBER this. If he does, he's GONE.

    August 11, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. Fed Up

    I don't think so. Just the fact that the government would be running any program is enough to make a grown man cry, except a Democrat. Look at the mess they have on their hands now. Do we really want government involved in anything we do? I say send them all home. Outsource the job to India, and pay them $300 per year. Just that budget savings would put us back in the black. No Congress to spend money. Ahh, the bliss! Yes, I'm joking, but it would be nice.

    August 11, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Status quo is exactly why all of these protesters are being stirred up by the lobbiests for the insurance and drug companies. They're terrified at the thought of their profits going south and they want nothing to change. Business as usual is all they know and they will lie and do whatever they can to keep the status quo. Unfortunately, there are too many people out there buying into the lies they're spreading. I though that people were smarter than that and they wouldn't believe all the lies and garbage that the Republicans are trying to force down our throats.

    August 11, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. Get a Life !!

    I hope the health reform passes for 1 reason: because some people would rather disrupt an information meeting than shut up and try to learn something. Some will never understand, a person cannot talk and listen at the same time.

    August 11, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. RDS

    Can someone please tell me how a government funded public option will be the end of private insurance? Lets just take a look:
    US Postal vs UPS, Fedex
    Public schools vs Private Schools
    Medicare vs Private Insurance I could keep going but the point is a government option would not kill private insurance. The Republicans say they are for some type of reform so why is it that when they are in power they never implement any of their so called 'free market' solutions. If healthcare remains the way it is, you won't have to worry about having insurance anyways b/c corporations can not keep paying for employee insurance with cost rising as fast as they are. I wish all these people at the town halls protesting a gov't plan would pls drop from Medicare immediately...I'll hold my breathe.

    August 11, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. aaa

    Obama is the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. Pepou

    Prsident Obama has an impressive knowledge of the issue and I completely trust him on health care reform.
    Some on this blog who don't understand that the status quo is not acceptable do not have a clue on the issue. And by the way, READ the bill.

    August 11, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. J

    Medicare for all Americans both young and old
    instead of Seniors might be an answer.

    August 11, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. geecee

    So many hateful comments on here. This is just like the election. Breaks down by party affiliation. Those of you who hate Obama will continue to hate him and will not accept anything he does, regardless of how positive it is for America and its people. Well, those of us who support Obama far outnumber you, so keep your kicking and screaming and obstructionism and ranting and raving and bullying, and fear-mongering and extremist tactics and loud, upsetting, boisterious behavior going cause you're going to need it when push comes to shove!!

    August 11, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. seebofubar

    For once I agree with him, to do nothing is wrong;


    Start there and then we can talk about the rest.

    August 11, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. bsmith171

    AXELROD speaks through obama's mouth.

    believe him at your own risk.

    25 years after Medicare started their costs were 8X

    August 11, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. Wake Up

    My fav comments of obamabots is :
    "quit listening to Rush" or "that's what Hannity says"
    How do you know?? Do you watch or listen? Obama's plan will ruin America, but I couldn't even tell you when Rush or Hannity is on. Quit fooling yourself and listening to leftist propagonda. We are an awakened group sick of big federal govt.

    August 11, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. GObama

    Obama is a decent, moral president working hard to do what is right for others.
    The status quo of the current system is broken and needs reforms for compassionate health care coverage in America.
    God bless President Obama!

    August 11, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. Change in America

    That sad how the Republican sending hickers to town hall meeting to crash it....When ever American ever had reform on Health Care aleast President Obama is trying his best to reform health care the republican is a disaster party

    August 11, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. Terry in Iowa

    It appears that the republicans and their supporters are more interested in health insurance companies’ profits then they are about the health and well being of the American people. I’m sure those multi-millionaire CEOs and executives, who direct their firms to find more profit (drop policies when they can), will be more than happy to trickle some of their personal funds to the millions who have lost their jobs and health insurance due to the actions of their brethren, the Bank Executives through their toxic asset derivative schemes.

    There’s a connection here folks, it’s called greed … you know, one of the 7 deadly sins.

    August 11, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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