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. cjr

    these townhalls are the face of the republican party – mob action supported by the insurance companies – who really could care less about you. are you aware that the in house medical clinics at walmart are owned by the former director of united health care who received a mega fine for denial of coverage. If you are so against this health plan why don't you go to walmart the next time you or a family member gets sick and watch them tell you no. then what will you do when you lose your job with no hope of getting one and then you lose your home, and someone in your family gets sick and you tgo to the local emergency room and they are either closed or booked and tell you tyou to come back another time because they are filled. Then tell me why you don"t support health care reform.

    August 11, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. FreeNLovIt - Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed (1SPMI) of the gospel, for it is (3SPAI) the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (PAPMSD), to the Jew first & also to the Greek

    The system is broke and we need to fix it. Let's start with putting a limit on lawsuits. Then second, innovate the way we bring and buy drugs. No pill should ever cost $800.00 a month.

    August 11, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Remorseful Voter

    The socialist tendecies of this President are scariest of all. I have to say that he has acted stupidly during his presidency and I regret voting for him.

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

    At this point who cares I have my employer based health care fully paid for me and my family. The rest of you can sit and rot at the hospital for all I care at this point. I was for reform but if the people who it will help most, the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, the working class, are going to get all fired up about socialists and baby killing government boards then go rot for all I care.

    August 11, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. June

    Way to go Mr. President! The voice of reasoning. Thank you.

    August 11, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Babaganusch

    To all the Liberals who can do nothing more than blame EVERYTHING that's wrong in the world on Republicans...

    Okay, we get it. You won last November, and we lost. You now control EVERYTHING. So quit your whining and lead. You can start by providing some specific answers to some specific questions on healthcare reform. Here's a few:

    1. Why do we need to increase spending on health care by at least $1.6 TRILLION and rob from our children and grandchildren, when we alreay spend twice per capita what other nations spend on health care?
    2. What specific programs will you cut, and whose taxes will you raise in order to pay for these reforms?
    3. What pet project earmarks will be included in the healthcare package that have nothing to do with healthcare?
    4. Will you vote for a plan that will allow a board of politicians and bureaucrats to override decisions made between my doctor and I?

    August 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Gerry

    Read page 429 and then interpert it.

    August 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Ryan Indy

    No sorry Barrack your plan is alot more frightening. Your empty words are fooling know one anymore and the Public is loosing confidence in this guy. Wow I really miss GW and would take him any day of the week over this arrogant FRAUD....

    August 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. M

    We do need some sort of Health reform, but not this catastrophy! How can anyone trust this guy? He doesn't even know what's in the bill!!!!

    August 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Lee

    WHAT republican proposal? all the Republicans and thier racist supporters care about is trying to SLAM the President a MAJORITY of AMERICANS voted for. This nonsense at these townhall meetings are nothing but ignorant people, proabably middle class complaining about something they have no clue about. What is wrong with competition in america? I thought that was called capitolism? You nut jobs say you don't want YOUR tax dollars going towards helping other americans, what about THEIR tax dollars going towards helping them? People grow UP, educate yourself before showing up at these townhalls making america look childish or worse SELFISH.

    Respectfully yours,

    An active duty ARMED FORCES MEMBER.

    August 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Tom

    There were tough questions ... "single payer".... "death panels" ... "government takeover". Just because Obama was able to answer them calmly and with facts does NOT make the questions or questioners any less authentic. When did screaming and hollering and acting like a 6-year old become the new normal?

    August 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Claudia in Houson

    If the healthcare system wasn't broken it wouldn't need to be fixed. The problem is it's been broken so long until people can't see it needs to be fixed until it completely collapses.

    August 11, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. sharon

    status......if you are wealthy you will have status and good health care.
    if you are will not.
    we need this health choice now.

    August 11, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. TH

    Obama, you are not overhauling or repairing the nations health care system as you say it. You are taking a system that needs help and putting the screws to the American people. You have said nothing positive in your campaign to overhaul the system. I specifically remember exactly one of your campaign pledges and that was; "I want you, the American public to have the same health care that I have." So far you have said nothing even close. I would rather be without health insurance than to have the Government provide what you call health care. At least if I do not have health care I can choose the doctor I go to, the hospital I'm treated at and the medications needed. You are not offering any thing but a socialistic BS plan.

    August 11, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. ETM

    I think most of America is sick of the do-nothing, know-nothing crowd that is now the base of the Republican party. If we do not reform health care, the whole system will collapse in 10 to 15 years.

    Keep up the good work, Mr. President. We will not be deterred by the bleating mobs at some of these town halls meeting. Health care reform will pass and we will all be better off for it–except perhaps for a few who will not be able to use the system to keep on ripping people off.

    August 11, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Matt from St. Louis

    So who are the special intrests groups trying to thwart the healthcare reform? (I know, I know there are radical conservative individuals who want to let the market take care of itself also, but we see how that goes). I expect the insurance companies and hospitals, because there's a big profit being made there. I would really like to see someone start up a large scale non-profit hospital or health insurance company. I'm not going to hold my breath, but that would eliminate the need for a government option by allowing less costly healthcare. I am an Obama supporter, and I want to see something done right. Even a marginal profit tax break would be good. Basically look at employee salaries, building costs, and supplies. If your company is making under a certain percent profit then you get a prorated tax break. Of course this would entail an immense increase in IRS audits to check for fraud and "bookkeeping errors" Just throwing ideas out there.

    August 11, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. FL for Change

    Keep fighting for us, Mr. President. The Republicans have nothing – NOTHING – to offer but fear and hate. Rise above it and show the world that you are the leader of the greatest country in the world. You have the support of this white, Southern, Christian (yes, I used labels).

    August 11, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Kevin B

    The truth regarding the need for health care reform is going to drive the GOP wing nuts and thier insurance lobby masters totally crazy, It won't be long before they completely come un-hinged.

    Health care reform is long over due and everyone knows it, only the useful and wilfull idiots would deny this.

    Keep hitting them with the truth Mr Obama.......and watch them fall apart. ha-ha...........

    August 11, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Tom

    What is wrong with this country? They want to provide people with health insurance that can't afford it. You all are acting like you don't have to wait in line at an ER now and your Doctors are Jesus like healers that will be eradicated and you will have to go to a local butcher shop to get shots. I know my kids are on Florida government paid health care now and guess what? It is exactly the same!!! Calm freakin down already no one wants to kill your granny if they did Dr Kevorkian would be a billionaire.

    August 11, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  20. Liz in TX

    Obama only says what people want to hear. That's how he got elected! He lies through his teeth! His "town hall" meeting was totally orchestrated and fake. Talk about misinformation!!!

    Throw Obama out in 2012!!!!

    August 11, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Liz

    Obama only says what people want to hear. That's how he got elected! He lies through his teeth! His "town hall" meeting was totally orchestrated and fake. Talk about misinformation!!!

    Throw Obama out in 2012!

    August 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. elliott

    TOTALLY not true !! The Prez is lying...AGAIN!! Status Quo is NOT scarier than this CRAZY and DANGEROUS Health Care Bill he is trying to force on the American people!
    Many are rightfully outraged and are not going to take it.
    More and More Democrats are discovering Obama is not who they had hoped he would be...

    August 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Predicta

    People who claim that if you are against this health care reform, you should give up your medicare and social security benefits are idiots.
    Why should anyone give up a benefit they paid into their entire working lives? Seven and a half percent of everything you ever made went to Social Security through payroll deductions. That doesn't even count the seven and a half percent your employer had to pay to match it. That's 15 percent of everything you made in your lifetime. To suggest that you are now not entitled to these benefits you paid for is alot like how the new health care reform will work. Pay more to support a public option and get less when it's time to get the benefits. Just say no to health care reform. Sooner or later, they'll get the message. (If it's later, they'll be replaced by representatives who actually represent your interests).

    August 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. Liz in TX

    Obama only says what people want to hear. That's how he got elected! He lies through his teeth! His "town hall" meeting was totally orchestrated and fake. Talk about misinformation!

    Throw Obama out in 2012!

    August 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. Ancient Texan

    A crowd that was screened, rescreened and carefully selected to fit the Presidents' agenda. Who would have thought it? Health care needs reform, BUT NOT GOVERNMENT management. Government can not run anything effectively. There's a shortage of Doctors now, and surely not enough to take on another 40-50 million people (bogus number). So, rationing would be the rule rather than the exception.

    August 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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