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

Republican senator hears health-care concerns back home

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Reformed Republican

    Grassley you're a bought and paid for tool of big health insurance you moron...
    Non-profit cooperatives are not nor ever have been regulated or had legitimate oversight – the insurance industry would have a field day ripping people off using co-ops!.
    Co-ops are worse than the "Do nothing" or stagnant-quo suggestions you rethugs have been puking up.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way of serious reform Grassley – Stop saying "NO!" and spreading fear and lies about serious discussions on the issue...

    August 12, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. David Newport, OR

    I say leave it...Let this country is inevitable without reform. The GOP doesn't want reform. I wonder why?

    August 12, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. Eddie

    Hey you Idiot Dem & Libs.....Social Security & Medicare are NOT Government SOCIAL programs, Every WORKING (of course this is usually where most of Obama supporters will not fit into the mix) have paid into these programs! Unlike WELFARE.....what you want is a WELFARE health care program, Get a life, and while you're at it, get a JOB!

    August 12, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. Kate in San Diego

    How very responsible of him! What a guy!

    August 12, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Zion

    Americans..Why do you continue to rely on a two party system that has constantly failed you? Look, lets try to work towards building a legitimate independent party. The Democrats and Republicans do not have to work for your votes because they know that if you are dissatisfied with one you will only vote in another. And vise versa. Wake up. Why is it hot being enslaved to a two party oiligarchy?

    August 12, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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