Bay Area districts discuss health care

June 22, 2009 7:03:45 PM PDT
On Monday congressional lawmakers returned to their Bay Area districts to bring the health care debate home. There is a general consensus that medical costs are out of control and too many people are uninsured, but there is much less agreement about how to fix it.

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In Oakland Representative Barbara Lee (D) hosted a packed forum. In San Jose, Representative Mike Honda (D) lead the discussion. In both cases, the topic was health care reform.

"The bottom line for me is that nobody in this country should go without health care," says Honda.

Both Honda and Lee say having 47 million uninsured Americans is unacceptable and both Democrats support including some kind of government sponsored health insurance program.

"The public option will be one that creates some competition, create choices without eliminating the other folks. So that it's an opportunity that we have been waiting for a long time," says says Honda.

A just released New York Times poll indicates 72 percent of the public supports a government role in providing health insurance, but that kind of support does not exist in the Senate.

Republicans and even some moderate Democrats insist there is no way they will get behind the idea of the government providing health care insurance for some. Senator Lindsey Graham (R) from South Carolina spoke exclusively on ABC's "This Week."

"People have tried this model in other countries and the first thing that happens is that you have to wait longer for health care," says Graham.

There's also heated debate over how to pay for any reform. Congressional Representative Lee told the Oakland crowd spending priorities need to be redefined, but rejects one idea in Washington that would tax healthcare benefits working Americans already receive.

"I don't think we should tax the benefits of those who are working. Personally, I don't think that is the way we need to finance health care reform," said Lee.

With President Obama leading the call for reform, many advocates want the government to not only bring health care costs down, but also guarantee basic coverage for everyone -- the question is still how and who will pay.

ABC's Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate a town hall meeting on health care with President Obama. You can see that on ABC Channel 7 on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 10 p.m.

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