August 12th, 2009
09:38 AM ET
13 years ago

Fears fuel emotional health care protests

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The battle over health care reform has energized people on both sides of the debate."]
(CNN) - Beyond the noise of raucous crowds and angry protesters who have turned town hall meetings into shouting matches is genuine concern from ordinary citizens who are afraid that President Obama's health care proposals would only make things harder for them, experts say.

"The reason that we see these protests and people asking tough questions at town hall meetings is because they feel like the president is going to take something away from them. That motivates people. That gets them out," said Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Those fears were heard Tuesday at Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter's town hall meeting in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. "This is going to take away my freedom," charged one man who wanted assurance from Specter that the private option for health insurance would stay viable.

Specter repeated Obama's pledge, telling the crowd, "If you like your policy, you can keep it."

Acknowledging the skepticism at a town hall meeting Tuesday, Obama tried to alleviate fears that reform would take something away.

"I recognize there's an underlying fear here that people somehow won't get the care they need. You will have not only the care you need, but also the care that right now is being denied to you, only if we get health care reform. That's what we're fighting for," he said at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, event.

Since his days on the campaign trail, Obama has promised the public that those who like their health insurance plans won't have to give them up, but he's stopped short of saying at what cost.

"I think that's the fear," said Diana Owen, an associate professor of political science and the director of American studies at Georgetown University. "Even though they are going to keep the plan, the plan is going to be at a much greater cost. And he's not been able to really allay that fear."

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Filed under: Congress • Health care • Obama administration • President Obama
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Bedtime for Obonzo

    What? You mean to say that there's no Vast Right Wing Conspiracy lurking behind anyone who disagrees with the Beloved Leader? Someone should inform the Democratic leadership.

    August 12, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Ron In California

    The way to stop the insanity is simple. Stop the Town Hall meetings. The Senators and Congressmen don't really have a clue about the proposal.

    Do the following before the bill is brought up for vote
    1. Gahter information form the folks on their concerns-being done now.
    2. Set aside several hours over several days and have a detailed presentation by the CBO or some other neutral party. Cover the key provisions, costs, how it will be paid for, what the impact will be to other related benefits. Use Prime time TV and radio to do this. Eliminate the lies, rumors and myths
    3. Gather post presentation feedback
    4. Because this is so important and impacts people significanlty, hold a special nation wide vote.
    5. Since this issue has shown how inept the politicians are, Next election vote them all out of office.

    August 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. AJ

    There is a simple solution to this problem. Limit the salaries of executives of private insurance companies including bonuses to a maximum of $ 2 million per year and limit the amount of profit these companies can make after corporate tax deductions to maximum of 10% in any given year.

    August 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. John from Canada

    While the Canadian system might not be the best at least WE ALL get the treatment that is required and donot have to worry about getting a big medical bill after. Why is it that the conservatives who are suppose to be GOOD CHRISTIANS are the ones that are screaming the loudest that they donot not want this basic coverage for all people. Did Christ not say that treat others as you would treat ME? So is this how these people would treat Christ if He was here today? Just wondering?

    August 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Predicta

    I have no problem providing health care for people who don't have it. What I do mind, is that the restrictions some of these bills will place on private insurance will eventually force private insurance out and we'll be left with only a public option. And what's the deal with access to my bank account? Do you really think anyone will be willing to allow the government to access their bank accounts? I'll cancel my direct deposit, close the acct and start cashing my paycheck at my employers bank and keep the cash at home in a safe before I submit to this.

    August 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Lynne

    CNN is hypocritical when it tries to debunk the lies floating around about what is in the bill and yet runs the 60plus ads that perpetuate them.

    So much for profits over honesty and trustworthiness!

    August 12, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. George

    Fears fuled by Republican lies. They prey pn the ignorant. Thank God the ignorant are the minority. People with brains can see through the Palin and Gingrich lies.

    August 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Tony

    It seems that the majority of people with healthcare and access to healthcare don't care about the people without healthcare or access.

    Why are American's so selfish?

    August 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. ran

    It is a shame that people in this day and age are still so gullible.

    A single payer non-profit will bring your cost down just by not having to pay for multimillion $ executives salaries/bonuses or to dividends to shareholders or for insurance companies private jets or for multiple forms that have to be filled out by providers. Also if everyone is on the same plan that too will bring down your cost.

    No one will be without healrh care and no one will de denied services. You or your employer would still be paying just your money would be going toward health care not toward profits.

    Our health should not be for profit. Not now not ever.

    August 12, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. Mary Toxey

    Why are people willing to pay for war but not healthcare? Why didn't politicians have to go across country holding town halls to convince people to 1) go to war and 2) pay for it?? Why did we as a nation so readily go to war which we know would cost many lives and billions of dollars, but now are so fervently opposed to saving lives?

    August 12, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  11. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "If you like your policy, you can keep it."

    Not necessarily. Read H.R. 3200 Sec 102.

    Another fear Obama isn't going to be able to allay is that of the effects of spending a few trillion bucks we don't have: higher taxes, higher national debt, higher inflation...

    August 12, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. Paul I

    Today's health care is already very expensive and too often people are denied coverage when they need it most. This is part of the reason that today's system doesn't work well. And yet it is also the reason that people are truly afraid that any health care reform will cost them more or deny them coverage. People want to be reassured that they will protected from retaliation from the current health care system if reforms are adopted.

    August 12, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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