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. thescoundrel

    Obama is destroying the chances for health care reform. The only thing he has to do is fix the language in the reform to exclude his socialist and eugenics agendas, and he would have overwhelming support. He refuses to do so. The only reason can be that he values his socialist agenda over the top of real health care reform.

    August 12, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. cspurgeon

    Grassley pushed himself away from the table when Obama was elected....Gee political or racist??? What kind of insurance does he have and what does he pay for his? How much Insurance company money does he take. Vote hinm out Iowa...

    August 12, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Peggy - TX

    He rightly should be pushed away from the table.

    Obstructionist Republicans, the newly formed coalition of Stupid and racist, the Pharmaceutical Companies and Insurance Industry can not stop CHANGE.

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE VOTED OVERWEALMINGLY TO GIVE PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE CONGRESS A MANDATE TO MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN

    WE WANT CHANGE!!!
    WE DO NOT WANT THE STATUS QUO!!!
    WE WANT THE HEALTHCARE REFORM BILL PASSED!!!!!!
    NOW

    August 12, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Moderate Democrat

    "Nothing may come out of our committee," Grassley said.

    Moral of the story: Republicans opt and expect failure anytime they (republicans) are involved.

    It's pretty sad when we have a party that EXPECTS itself to fail no matter what they do. Thank goodness we have democrats, who push for success rather then anticipate failure.

    August 12, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Tim from Tamp

    It the Party of No stonewalls health care reform again, we won't have to worry about it much longer. If we do nothing,in 10-12 years, the cost of U.S. health care be 33% of our GDP. The U.S. will be bankrupt.

    August 12, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Republicans Suck

    Chuck Grassley is a liar.

    He should honor our American soldiers and quit making things up.

    August 12, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Rich

    Every group says that polls are behind them. Well, the truth of the matter is that people don't want big government running their lives and especially something as personal as health care. But, that doesn't mean they don't want common sense to prevail in health care reform such as tort reform and assistance for med students to increase the number of practicing nurses and doctors. Come on people, most of us want health care at reasonable prices or even with government assistance if unemployed or uninsurable. But, we don't want or need the government to run the healthcare business like they are trying to do with the auto industry. Let common sense prevail and economics lead the way.

    August 12, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. a health economist

    Here's what I'd love to ask the Senator:

    If government is a predator does that include you being that you are a government employee?

    If we can't trust the government with public insurance, how can we trust them with national defense and a government controlled military?

    How will tax credits help anyone that cannot by private insurance to begin with?

    If a single seller is bad for consumers because it could dictate prices, why is a single payer of health insurance which could dictate prices for patients bad for the patients? Is that not just an extension of the employer based system in which the employer is the single payer of its employees' insurance?

    August 12, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Moreover, it'll be just liek the GOPers to claim credit for health care reform passing after they've instigated interruption of the Dems' town halls enjoying having the benefit of holding calm ones themselves.

    August 12, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Justin

    The problem with getting a 'bipartisan' bill is that it would actually have to be a partisan bill for the right.

    Boehner, McConnell and the rest of the GOP leadership have made it clear that they'll only support 'reform' if, in reality, it's no reform at all.

    "Incremental reform"? Not good enough. We've tried that, and it's given us the most expensive, inefficient healthcare system in the industrialized world.

    Grassley's doing his best, but I doubt he has much of a voice in his own party.

    August 12, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Kevin B

    After the millionaire radio "entertainers" and the insurance company lobbiest have whipped their weak minded GOP constituents into a hateful rage they will bear sole responsiblity for any physical violence upon fellow americans.

    Keep in mind that they have morphed any reasonable debate on badly needed health care reform for americans into a hate Mr Obama fesitival.

    Do not be fooled by the thinnly veiled xenophobic bigotry that is underlying the "town hall" disruptions.

    August 12, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. GOPer

    Senator Grassley has No intension on voting for the bill.

    He continues his GOP lies of supposed government takeover when the CBO clearly stated the public option would not dominate the system.

    His tort reform is the same old concept of savings at the top would somehow transfer to the consumer. Trickle-down economics has proven not to work with greed only kept at the top as profit.

    Even if malpractice reforms were included, Grassley's Party of No would still vote against it.

    August 12, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Rob, Ohio

    I very much like the idea of not-for-profits providing health care alternatives for people rather than a government-run "public option". What I find ironic is that even though this not-for-profit option would fulfill all the requirements and needs of people that are uninsured, it's still not good enough for the Liberal Left because it's not government run (never mind that the government doesn't have a great record of efficient operations).

    Please keep up with the bipartisan talk, and this approach!

    August 12, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Jacob-WA

    I know that the republicans are the devil and democrats know all; and how Rush Limbaugh is the reason for all the problems in America- or so I would gather from reading comments on various articles. But regardless, the health care proposal is 450 pages long; Democrats- can any of you really explain how the health care system proposal works? I mean really can you explain it for people to understand it, I have watched Obama speak about it on numerous occasions and cant help but think "he described nothing, people believe he has a plan but he didn't describe what that plan was". So please one of you almighty democrats explain to me how the new health care system will work. I also want explanations as to where the money will be coming from. Thanks :)

    August 12, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. g ontario

    sounds like more of the same for 30 more years

    August 12, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. alvino

    Grassley's goal is to stop any reform, and, as a result, I think he is doing a disservice to not only Iowans, but all of us. At least he will continue to get his big contributions from the health care industry.

    August 12, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. sharon

    if government is a predator................does that make Grassley a predator? He is in gov.

    he thinks an 800 # would do?
    How about e-bay?

    but of course, he first said nothing "may " come out of their group......
    that was him saying what he thinks "will" happen............NOTHING.

    GOP = NO

    August 12, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. They call me "Tater Salad"

    So basically what Grassley is saying is that, he is already prepared to say NO right off the bat, unless of course, he and the rest of the Republican Party slime get their way! I wish the Democrats would show some backbone and use their fillibuster proof majority to walk right over the Republicans and get this done! I have absolutely no problem excluding them, they bring NOTHING to the table anyway except a box of tissues to dry their "wittle tears"! So why even pay any attention to them at all? They're nobody's and shouldn't count in the least!

    August 12, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  19. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    I heard his "answer" to a woman's question about what he was going to about reform, but it sounded more like the typical party answer you get if you write your Congressperson.

    August 12, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. S Callahan

    lol....gotta love it!
    MIght be a good idea to do some research prior to a meeting....see who is invested in what, when, where......
    Then ask the big questions with info on lap to refer too....
    Bring tissues, might have to use them to wipe up some of the slurp coming out of this....lol

    August 12, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Idiot_Pelosi

    ObamaCare stinks.

    I don't care how you SELL IT OBAMA, a 10 lb bag of crap still smells like a 10 lb bag of crap.

    August 12, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Lynne

    Why isn't CNN reporting that Grassley also went along with the lie of socalled "death panels" saying that America "Should not have a gov't run plan to decide when to pullt the plug on grandma". Your own reports have over and ober again refuted this claim.

    Did this not fit into your storyline of Republicans good; democrats bad??Shame on you for slanted, incomplete reporting.

    August 12, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. patNY

    Scared for their country? That's code for scared that we have a different looking president from all the prior 43. Its racist code words. We're not stupid as to what's going on.

    August 12, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. ben

    notice grassley supports nothing that will help the people, only the same republican talking points that stand up for big business.

    August 12, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. Bethie

    Republicans want fear.....it's how they gain control. When are the sheep going to wake up?

    August 12, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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