Pelosi holds health care roundtable in SF

August 4, 2009 6:48:38 PM PDT
Town hall meetings on health care reform are taking place across the country with lawmakers on their summer break. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is back in the Bay Area to sell the bill, but the legislation is highly contentious. Pelosi was in San Francisco on Tuesday to talk health care reform and take on the insurance companies.

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At San Francisco General Tuesday morning, Pelosi showed off a card that she had given to her congressional colleagues to help them stay on point during this August recess.

"What we have in common is that we urgently need to reform the health insurance program in America," said Pelosi.

It is the health insurance system that needs reforming she says.

"The truth is we have a system today that works well for the insurance industry, but it doesn't always work well for you," said President Barack Obama at his most recent helath care town hall.

Attacking insurance companies is popular -- unless you are an insurance company. A spokeswoman for the industry responded Tuesday saying, "...a campaign has been launched to demonize health plans and the men and women who work hard every day in their communities to provide health insurance coverage to more than 200 million Americans."

"I think they've done that themselves," said Pelosi.

Pelosi says health insurance companies have demonized themselves by refusing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and raising premiums on the seriously ill.

"Dropping your coverage if you become sick -- how about that just to name a few," she said.

Republican lawmakers continue to hammer on their most popular point -- the trillion dollar price tag.

"Paid for, financed by new taxes on small businesses which create two-thirds to three-quarters of all the jobs in our economy," said Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota.

Opponents are paying for ads, attacking the idea of new taxes to pay for health care. At least one conservative group is encouraging followers to go to health care town halls and yell at Democratic lawmakers in order to rattle them.

Tuesday, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada responded to that.

"In spite of the loud shrill voices trying to interrupt town hall meetings and just throw a monkey wrench into everything, we're going to continue to be positive and work hard," said Reid.

Reid made those comments after meeting with the president in the afternoon. Obama had the entire Senate Democratic caucus visit for lunch and some political arm-twisting. The fact is the health care legislation being hammered out in Congress is complex, and it is not the stuff of seven-second sound bites and easily understood catch-phrases.

LINK: H.R.3200: America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (Introduced in House)

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