August 12th, 2009
01:11 PM ET
5 years ago

Republican senator hears health-care concerns back home

Sen. Grassley held a town hall in Iowa Wednesday.
Sen. Grassley held a town hall in Iowa Wednesday.

(CNN) - Now it's the Republicans' turn to face the health-care debate back home.

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley held the first of four town meetings in his home state Wednesday, welcoming what he called a much larger crowd than the usual political gathering.

"We're here at a time when I sense that people are scared for our country and that's why we're having big turnouts," he said to a mostly conservative audience of about 200 people.

The outdoor gathering in Winterset, Iowa, erupted in argument a few times after some left-leaning questions, but the overall tone was more orderly than similar health-care meetings by Democratic politicians.

Grassley is one of six members of the Senate Finance Committee - three Democrats and three Republicans - negotiating the only bipartisan health-care legislation so far.

Listen: CNN's Candy Crowley reports on Grassley's town hall


The six negotiators are not considering a government-funded public health insurance option favored by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders, but are looking at non-profit cooperatives that would negotiate collective polices for members.

Grassley warned that the months of negotiations may fail to produce a bill he can support.

"Nothing may come out of our committee," Grassley said. "It may not be something I can agree with, so I may be pushed away from the table."

He listed his conditions for a bill, saying "what we stand for is that the government is not going to take over the health-care system."

Opponents of a public health insurance option - including Grassley - contend it would drive private health insurers out of the market.

"Government is not a competitor, it's a predator," he said to applause.

"Then everyone else's premiums go up and pretty soon there's not any private insurance."

His other requirements include no government intervention in patient-doctor relations, no public funds for abortion, and eliminating the denial of health insurance due to pre-existing conditions.

At the same time, Grassley explained specific provisions of proposed legislation to clear up misconceptions expressed by questioners.

He gave a detailed description of health insurance exchanges proposed by Democrats to offer consumers a choice of options.

"You would be able to go to an exchange on the Internet or an 800 number and compare prices or whatever," he said. "You'd be able to go to one site and get the best policy."

Grassley also called for reducing health-care costs through better management of chronic conditions and capping the damages in malpractice lawsuits.

Some questioners were angry about the current system, with one woman asking, "What are you going to do about these insurance companies that are putting everything in their pocket and just laughing at everybody else?"

Grassley said the bipartisan bill, if eventually completed, would hold down health insurance premiums and provide refundable tax credits to help low-income Americans obtain coverage.

His goal is to have a bill that can be supported by most senators, rather than just the Democrats and a few Republicans so that it can avoid a filibuster, he said.


Filed under: Charles Grassley • Health care • Iowa
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Melissa

    Republicans, stop scaring people, and start talking out against behaviors like the swastikas and the pictures of Obama dressed as the Joker. You know those things are wrong. They weren't done to Bush, and there is no reason they should be done to Obama.

    If you are responsible people that care about your country at all, you will tell these people to stop behaving like this.

    August 12, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. ANGIE IN PA

    No screaming like lunatics no signs of hitler only happening at Democrats town halls humm kind of makes you wonder!!!

    August 12, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. BKrause

    Could your reporter please tell us how a "left-leaning" question is distinguished from a "right-leaning" question? Better yet, is there a "good" type of question?

    August 12, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Astroturf This

    Republican Senators aren't getting the harsh protestors because they are SPOT ON with the public on this issue. The Democrats are lying to the American people and they know it. Robert Gibbs is lying through his teeth at his briefing...and the liberal news media is tip toeing around acting AFRAID to even ask why president Obama's "town hall" looked staged!!! What part of SNOW JOB do you people not understand???

    The American people know a skunk when they smell it. This administration is putting a socialist system in place and we are NOT going to let it happen. The news media can pander to Obama all day long...It ain't gonna happen!!!

    August 12, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. PLEASE, no more republicans ever!

    This is what happens when you have left leaning (dems) attend a town hall, an orderly meeting. When you have rethuglicans you get rioters!

    August 12, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Stuffit

    It sounds too reasonable, the Dems will never go for it.

    August 12, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. MomofFour

    Robert Gibbs can blame cable news all day long.....People are invested in this issue. When 80% of the people are happy with their healthcare coverage they can't be fooled into thinking that a government takeover of healthcare is the right thing to do.

    Not just conservatives know what is going on. All sides understand what is happening here. The news media had better stop the bias and pay attention to their audience. Pandering to this administration is not a wise idea. They are lying...the more people know about what is in this bill the angrier people are getting. Demonizing people for being concerned and afraid is NOT going to change public perception. The far left has LOST this issue.

    August 12, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. David In West Virginia

    No, Senator Grassley. It's the birthers and right wing flange of the Republican party that wants to destroy this government that shows up with support of Congressmen, women, and Senators like you. The problem is if the Republicans and the Big Business Lobby interest can't rule, they have the funds to disrupt democracy. I have never seen Democrats act this this type crazy manner. It's only the airheads and where in hell do they come from? While they stick to their religion and guns, they want to deny their own of health care. They might have their religion but they're unchristian and lack compassion. They are the true murderers and fearmongers we should fear!

    August 12, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Dixon

    I support what Grassley is doing. I am a life long Democrate who has voted for Grassley many times. The reason I can be supportive is his willingness to work across the isle for what is best for the country. He has worked very hard to bring us a better health care through hard work and negotiation.

    August 12, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Nourisha

    i love that he said they might not produce a bill he can agree with. how do six people not manage to come together and put together a plan they can all agree on? it's six people for crying out loud! what is he doing, sitting in his chair with his arms crossed and saying no to everything? surely he has to have contributed to the discussion and therefore should feel comfortable with the plan that six people put together. i so don't understand these politicians and their so-called "sticking to their guns". i certainly wish they had that attitude 9 years ago when we started down this slippery slope of huge deficits, bigger government and never-ending war. way to suddenly grow a backbone!!!!

    August 12, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Hugo

    What? Oh no dear heavens, a member of the GOP wanting healthcare reform? Whatever will the liberal smear machine do? How can they spin up something nasty to say about the GOP wanting to reform healthcare in a way that opposes the fascist takeover bill aka HR3200? Wait, I know, how about these for your talking points to distract the American people:

    Sara Palin can see Russia from Tina Fey's stage door!
    Karl Rove e-mails released, revealing nothing!
    Dick Cheney and George Bush approved waterboarding the sub-human Islamic terrorists hell bent on killing US citizens!

    ABO 2012!

    August 12, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Mississippi Mike

    ALL Republican congressmen should be holding daily townhalls right now. This is the largest stage they will have to get in front of their consituents.

    August 12, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Eddie

    Maybe Obama's Liberal government will understand this one simple thing; The majority of Americans do NOT want the federal government involved in any way with their health-care!
    Of course the response from the left is; "well the feds are already involved." My response to that is; if they are, then they need to "get out" of involvment!

    August 12, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. JJ in NY

    I would guess that the hypocritical Dems are organizing to disrupt these meetings .

    August 12, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. DL

    First, the GOP solution of tort reform is a joke...do these people not realize many states have tort reform, passed years ago? Look at Texas, people were told capping malpractice to 500k would drive costs down, they voted and it passed 49-51%..did costs go down? NO. Gave Drs. protection and rates still skyrocketed. So nice try, but some of us know better.

    The only GOP plan is to let big insurance continue to run amok. We are the laughing stock of the world, they marvel at our stupidity. We are ranked 31st among industrialized nations, that means 30 other countries do it better than we do. And the best health care system is Denmark. Government run. Our system profits when people are denied care and forced to die. Be honest for once GOP...'Death Panels' do exist...you've supported them for years!

    August 12, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Mich

    good for them let them no. Keep socializm out of my doctors office.

    August 12, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Dean

    Grassley said."Nothing may come out of our committee," Boy that is typical of the GOP

    August 12, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. J.S.

    The majority of the town hall meetings have been orderly. AARP has issued a news release stating they have not endorsed the Obama Healthcare reform as he said in the town hall meeting in New Hampshire. ??

    August 12, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. nea-nea

    If you think the Republicans care about Reforming Health Care think again the only reason they are out there is because of the president and the Democrats. They had 8 long years to get this done but did they even lift a finger a pen, held a town hall meeting or even talk about doing it then. No Americans are fine just the way they are over 47 millions dont have healthcare but they are fine just like they are, thats the Republicans take on healthcare. Besides they just want the President to fail anyway so they can control the W.H. again, then it will never get done.

    August 12, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Now why isn't the so-called "72% of the population demanding a public option" showing up at republican town halls and voicing their opinions?

    Could it be that the DNC floated out this 72% number without basis?

    Just asking...

    August 12, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Carlene Dewberry

    Senator, If you support this health care push (which is in truth a government takeover of health care no matter what you say), you will be tossed out next election cycle just like the democrats will be.

    August 12, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. Peggy

    I believe so much of this stuff is simply a case of the right wing playing sore loser. Let's be honest folks - a lot of people, particularly in the south, cannot stand the fact that we have a black man for President and they are using whatever means are at their disposal to try to discredit him. You can really see the hatred mixed in with some genuine concern at these meetings. If people are so convinced that "NOBODY" can compete with the government, yet the government can't run a thing efficiently, maybe they better think about the military, the FBI, the National Guard, and the CIA. These people also claim to be capitalists, but at the end of the day, according to their OWN argument, they don't believe capitalism actually works because "NOBODY" can compete with the government!!!!! Get a grip, people and don't be fooled by all these hate and fear mongers.

    August 12, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. JDM

    To push back from the table is defeat. You will give up? I thought I would never hear a Rep say this! When Bush was in office and anyone said that , the Rep would ripp them a new one!

    What counrty are some people talking about? One lady said in a town hall meeting that she wanted what the Founding Father wanting. If this is waht she wanting, she would not have the rigth to be in the townhall meeting, or vote! Makes you wonder what are really trying to say?

    PS it would be nice to get a post in once in a while.

    August 12, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Mike

    These stupid politicians should listen to the American Peoplw who are in a terrible shape withoug health insurance. If not the Government run system then what? Do they think insurance companies will reduce their rates so that poor people can afford to buy the insurance? Do they think these insurance companies who are spending over a million dollars a day to defeat this proposal will worry about anything other than their profits and executive compensation? If they do, vote them out of the office. They are nothing but prostitutes who will sell the country to these special interests group for money.

    August 12, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Shingo

    And where were the screamers? At first blush you could say it was because the people liked what he had to say. But then he said he is trying to work bi-partisan. That should have created a stir. Hmmm... only screamers at Dem Town Halls... I'm starting to think the Chamber of Commerce and Insurance Companies are not Democrats. Oh and of course Iowa is an insurance company heavy industry.

    August 12, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
1 2 3 4