Protesters upset over Sebelius comments

June 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Barack Obama is making health care reform a cornerstone of his first term in office, but his plan is drawing fire from both sides of the isle and on the streets of San Francisco.

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The number of protests is an example of why health care reform is not going to be easy. There were seniors and nurses union activists at odds with U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius was appearing at a Democratic fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel across the street. Sebelius appears to have ruled out single-payer health care, which they support. Single-payer creates one entity to handle all health care coverage.

Last week, Sebelius told National Public Radio that "dismantling private health coverage... is a bad direction to go."

"It was an unnecessary thing for her to say. She could just advocate for what she wanted, but instead, she decided to attack the single-payer movement. That's just unwise on her part," said Don Bechler, Single Payer Now chairman.

This is a pivotal week for health care reform. A House committee headed by Martinez Congressman George Miller (R) holds a key hearing on Tuesday. On Wednesday, President Obama will hold a town hall meeting on health care. On Monday, he announced a deal with drug companies to give seniors a price break.

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll gives the president a 53 percent approval rating on health care, which is not considered strong. A major push is underway to sell reform on cost saving.

"Right now we pay doctors based on how many times they touch a patient, how many tests are given, how many procedures are run, not how well the patient is at the end of the day," said Sebelius.

While some would like to see total reform of the existing system, such as single-payer, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D) from Palo Alto takes a more pragmatic view.

"I believe if we were starting from scratch, that would be the way to go. But we have many layers in our system today, and we need to build on the good and fix what's broken," said Eshoo.

Eshoo joins other Democrats in hoping health care reform can be achieved this year.

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