Town Hall Debate: Speier Style

By Lori Preuitt
|  Sunday, Aug 23, 2009  |  Updated 5:30 PM PDT
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Town Hall Debate: Speier Style

AP

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Town Hall meetings on the subject of the health care reform bill now making its way through congress have been heated of late to say the least.

And that proved true this weekend here in the Bay Area when Congresswoman Jackie Speier held a meeting in her district on the peninsula.

Several hundred people attended and those with identification that proved they lived in the area where given first in line privileges.

The meeting was scheduled to last 90 minutes, but went on for two and a half hours.

Those who attended were both pro and anti-reform, but seemed largely in favor of the bill.

Some said they came because they were confused about the health care plan being proposed by the Obama administration and wanted their representative to explain it to them.

At times the discussion got heated. One man accused Speier of not reading the 1,300 page bill in its entirety. He told Speier "insulted our intelligence."

Speier took issue with that accusation. "Don't insult my intelligence either. I have read the bill. I spent five hours going section by section with health care and medical experts," Speier said.

 

Another person said he was concerned that undocumented immigrants would be offered free health care under the plan. Speier countered they would not be covered by the reform bill now in the house.

Speier also spent time "debunking" other myths she says are floating around about health care reform, including the claim that reform would create so called death panels to decide if senior citizens would live or die. Speier said that is not true and is a distortion of a proposal for voluntary consultations with patients regarding end of life treatment such as living wills and life support.

On a national level, there are new signs of trouble for the overhaul.

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman Sunday urged President Obama to postpone many of his initiatives because of the economic downturn.

He told CNN that "there's no reason we have to do it all now."

Lieberman says the places to start are cost, health delivery reform and insurance market reforms.

The Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and advance a measure to an op-or-down vote. Senators from both parties said the Democrats might use a voting tactic to overcome GOP opposition.

Democrats control 60 votes, including Lieberman, but illness has sidelined Sen Edward Kennedy and Sen. Robert Byrd. Adding to their problem, Lieberman says he thinks it's a "real mistake" to try to jam through the total health insurance reform.

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