KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Opposition Campaigns And Protests Stalk Democrats

Protests about health reform continue to roil lawmakers meetings with constituents across the country.  

"Conservative opponents are clamoring to disrupt town-hall meetings about the proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system, using GOP-generated talking points to shout down Democratic congressmen who attempt to explain the plan," CQ Politics reports. Republican lawmakers say the protests are a reflection of voter's sentiments, while Democratic legislators and pro-reform activists argue the "organized mobs" are "intimidating lawmakers… and silencing discussions" (Allen, 8/6).

The Republican National Committee is planning a radio, phone and television campaign this month to follow up on July 4 efforts to pressure Democrats, Bloomberg reports. In the meantime, grassroots conservative groups are already engaged in campaigns of their own in key states, such as Virginia.  Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello encountered two elderly constituents "trembling with fear" on a recent day. A pamphlet had led them to believe - wrongly - that President Obama and other Democrats "would pull the plug and decide a 24-year-old's life was important and that an 85-year-old's wasn't," according to the lawmaker. Republicans have said they are not responsible for every piece of messaging (Przybla, 8/6).

Here's a run down of some recent skirmishes:

Detroit Free Press: As Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., opened a forum to discuss health reform with voters, "Mike Sola of Milan interrupted the congressman as he pushed his son, Scott, in a wheelchair, to the podium. He said proposed changes wouldn't help Scott and called Dingell a fraud" (Anstett and Gray, 8/7).

Fayetteville Observer: Five hundred people arrived by bus as part of the "Hands Off My Healthcare" tour in Fayetteville Thursday to protest reform. A typical sign at the protest read, "Obamacare: Bend over and say ouch!" (Calhoun, 8/7).

Houston Chronicle: "Physicians jammed a town hall meeting [in a Houston suburb] on Thursday, expressing fears about the cost and effectiveness of a health care reform bill that could come up for a vote in Congress as early as September." A local doctor who is also a hospital executive complained that he had not had time to read the legislation (Horswell, 8/6).

Associated Press: Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the majority leader, "scolded health care protesters dogging his party's lawmakers at local meetings." He said, "They are doing this because they don't have any better ideas. … It's really simple: they're taking their cues from talk show hosts, Internet rumor-mongerers (sic)... and insurance rackets" (Alonso-Zaldivar and Werner, 8/6).

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