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. Marlene

    I fear Sen. Grassley is more concerned about being re-elected, than in the true reform of health care or even bringing the soaring health care costs under conrol. I wonder how much insurance companies have contributed to Sen. Grassley's re-election fund? (Not that Republicans are alone in this grab for funds – Dems do it a well)

    August 12, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Alan

    Does anyone else find it somewhat curious that a Republican holds a meeting with constituents about healthcare that's more or less orderly (until some "liberal" questions were asked), but Democrats who WANT FEEDBACK FROM THE PEOPLE are seeing their meetings shouted down by rabid Republicans, egged on by their party leadership to disrupt and over-shout any way possible?

    August 12, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Matt-Bethlehem, PA

    It's ashamed that the lobbyists and far right wing are behind the 'majority' of the faux ouutrage over healthcare reform...People say they don't want government to get involved in healthcare, HELLO? Do you have MediCare or MedicAid?...GOVERNMENT CREATED AND RUN PROGRAMS!....Do you get Social Security checks?....HELLO, GOVERNMENT RUN AND CREATED PROGRAM!

    Read the facts before you want to cry or whine about healthcare reform, there is no 'death panel', no one will not euthenize grandma!!!! and if you like your current insurance, gasp!, you can keep it!!!

    August 12, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. anti liberal

    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.

    well of course it was more orderly. Republicans aren't looking to destroy the system that Democrats are that works for 75% of the people.

    They're simply looking to FIX the broken system WITHOUT a government takeover of healthcare either now or in the future with a public option that crowds out private healthplans.

    With a government that says that me and my 5 employee company of single male employees need maternity coverage. Ya that's right, MATERNITY FOR 5 SINGLE MALE EMPLOYEES.

    DUMB DEMOCRATS.

    August 12, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Predicta

    Here's one rep that will maintain his seat if he votes the way he says. Others, who try to force this heath care bill down the throats of the American public, will not be so lucky.

    August 12, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Dorothy

    Grassly's party was in power for at least six of their eight year rein and look at what they did with it ,our country almost fell apart not too mention the monsterous dept our childern will have too pay. Thats what happens when nothing is done. I do want his party making anymore decisions for america. Mr GRASSLY THANKS BUT NOTHANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! stay out off the bill making.

    August 12, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. howie

    Sounds like a senator that I can support.

    August 12, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. katiec

    Of course not. Grassley wants to make sure his insurance companies be allowed to continue to rape the American people.
    When will the republicans ever support the American people
    rather than big business?
    Their closeted support of the despicable behavior by big business, lobbyists, the extreme right is typical of the republican party and
    what they stand for. Party first, win at any cost and try to destroy
    our president and our country.

    August 12, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Ben

    He makes sense. Thank goodness months of negotiations may be necessary to come to an agreement. Anything is better than having something that most likely will not work forced upon us.

    August 12, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. Pat Dunedin Fl

    Mr Grassely is from a small state. I live in Florida, I want more
    representation. I don' t care what Mr Grassely does or says.
    He did nothing in 8 years except support a unjust war. I WANT
    HEALTH CARE REFORM. I VOTED , GRASSELY YOUR PARTY
    LOST. YOU ARE NOT BIPARTISAN , YOUR ON A EGO TRIP.
    PLEASE EXCUSE YOURSELF FROM THE TABLE!!!!!!

    August 12, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    GRASSLEY IS A joke
    bet he won't get vored back in the next time he comes up for re election
    and he and his party are getting smaller and smaller . americans are waking up and finding out that the republicans only support big business and not the main stream american
    soon it will be by by to the bottom feedres and our county can start a new generation of thinkers that help get us back on our feet and become productive again and racisit people will fail to SCARE america any more and big business will have to treat people fairly and openly ..

    wow what a day that will be I can like most of america hardly wait

    change is now

    August 12, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. SIMP

    I watched three town hall meeting yesterday and I can say this is truly a joke. All these ignorant people yelling and saying things that are not true. What make these clowns look even dumber is they have a copy of the bill and read it before they ask stupid question, and their concern is just not in the bill, they make it up. What a bunch of clowns. How can so many people be so misinformed? They are listening to the Rush, Hannity and Beck. Can't you iliterate troublemakers have a mind of your own? It's so funny to watch these morons, they are so WRONG!!!!!

    August 12, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. mother and sister of a soldier

    Finally, someone who is approaching the health care reform with sense! He is talking reform....the pres is talking control. A big difference!

    August 12, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. faithful democrat/jacksonville

    I do not know or understand why people are so angry and violent about healthcare reform. It's a bunch of people who are just thinking about themselves and does not care about the millions w/out insurance. President Obama has said several times over and over, if you like your healthcare plan...keep it. I do not believe half of the information that I'm hearing about government taking. People must educate themselves and research information and not be misleaded. You can't believe everything you heard and sometimes people say things to benefit themselves. Be careful for what you ask for or be careful what you're against. These people are so rude and disrespectful. It doesn't take all this. I do not recall them being that hateful, disrepectful and rude when former Clinton was trying to get healthcare for Americans. I feel like it's just a matter of time before something or someone is seriously hurt.

    August 12, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. madison

    I have to give him credit for going out there and trying to get REAL information to the public (especially his Republican constituants) instead of promoting the lies that many of his fellow Republican Congressmen are promoting. Obvously from this quote, however the right-wingers, at even his meeting, still had some trouble acting like adults.

    "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."

    August 12, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Rushcheneycan Whiners Need To Grow A Pair

    And CNN wonders why they are losing credibiltiy among other things ..

    "erupted in argument a few times after some left-leaning questions" : When people actually have questions in support of heath care and insurance reform, they are "left-leaning." (Because Grassley is a bald, two-faced liar trying to have it both ways and lying about both to separate contingencies.)

    When they disrupt, threaten, lie and intimidate and come with arms in opposition then they are being idolized by CNN and the rest of the "liberal" media.

    What a joke CNN and the media has become. No wonder they get an "F" for their coverage according to CNN's own "poll" or more correctly and jokingly known as a "report card".

    August 12, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Georgia

    Grassley can't agree on any health reform when he is taking large amounts of money from the Insurance Companies – can he????

    He is all for protecting the HUGE PROFITS of the Insurance Companies – rather than the UNINSURED CONSTITUANTS of his state. Maybe if they could find a way to come up with millions of dollars to pay him off – he would take care of them then????????

    August 12, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. kishen c.rao

    GOP guys...don't be using scare tactics...ok, people know exactly what nation needs...this nation needs to have a strong Health Care Reform...ok...enough of this stealing the nation....GOP needs to shut up...they are using old coots of america...to scare that they will be without insurance...ok...enough of this, scary thing for old coots of USA! Dear fellow seniors...don't listen to this GOP....nation needs to move forward, not back ward...to Regan era....I bet you will not lose any thing...your donut hole is covered and your insurance is covered, you will be fine...don't listen to this idiotic advertisements....listen to me...i care for America more than any one else...God bless you, GOD bless this Health care reform....ok...kishen c.rao

    August 12, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. Pete

    I'm in the military and have a really good health care plan that the tax payer already pays for, so in my world, I have universal health care and IT WORKS! In their world, the POTUS and Congress have universal health care that the public pays for, and IT WORKS. The people that are so against this new proposal are mostly the older group of us (Americans) and they have their form of universal health care – MEDICARE. Agreeably, it can be better, but for the most part, IT WORKS! So why are we so afraid of a change that can get care for the rest of us (Americans) that are having difficulties finding health care? When did we (Americans) get to be this selfish? Is this why I wear a uniform – to protect the selfish?

    August 12, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Jackie in Dallas

    Interesting to note that there weren't screaming crowds shouting lies and mis-information at THIS town meeting. Oh, that's right, he's a Republican.

    I actually have to admire his moxie, though. Unlike many of his fellow GOPers, he's actually trying to come up with an alternative rather than just shouting NO at the rest of the country!

    August 12, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Barry NiFong, Hawaii

    Why would anyone accept the first draft of the bill when Pelosi and the other NUTS drafted it? Since this is the biggest bill for EVERY ONE of the members of Congress, how about thinking it thru a little longer. I'm for health care reform, but not at the hands of NUTS.

    August 12, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. John M, NoHo

    IT"S AN OPTION, people! If you like what you have, keep it. If you don't you can switch. Where's the problem? It's the free market at work. How come these conservative nuts don't complain about the Public School system where the government provides free schooling?

    August 12, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. irwin

    Why don't some of these nutjobs who scream 'USA, USA...' and are afraid that government will destroy health care – like it did to Medicare and the VA, of course – answer one question! How good a job has the insurance companies done, and do they deserve our continued support????

    August 12, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. roger

    What about stopping insurance companies from using rescission to invalidate claims? It's great that Grassley supports the elimination of pre-existing conditions as grounds for denial, but that's only part of the problem. There needs to be a way to stop insurance companies from taking advantage of people for their own benefit. This is why they need to be regulated. Did you know that, in Michigan, Blue Cross will deny you coverage if you get sick from a drug prescribed by a doctor? They call it drug abuse!

    August 12, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    The Dems H. R. 3200 is just about causing riots in the streets, and I think it's–quite justifiably–doomed.

    From the sketchy details provided, it looks like Grassley's bill would be a much, much, better reform of the health insurance industry's than the Dems insanely expensive health entitlement idiocy, but I'll have to wait for more details.

    Looks like "the party of no" is actually being the party of common sense.

    August 12, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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