KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Pushes For Reform At New Hampshire Town Hall Meeting

President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, early this afternoon to push for health care reform.

The Washington Post reports: "On the day President Obama took the bully pulpit to New Hampshire to sell his health-care plan, it is clear that the debate has become a proxy for a much bigger fight over the size and power of the federal government."  The Post puts the issue of the cost of the Obama-backed health reforms and related public concerns in the context of the economy and the related policy initiatives the administration has advanced: "Had Obama not had to confront an economy in such bad straits, the issue of how much government he was embracing might not have become so heated. Certainly the health-care reform initiative was going to include an intense debate over Washington's role in the system, as it did when Bill Clinton tried to overhaul the system in 1993-94. But Obama's decisions elsewhere have dramatically escalated that debate and compromised the administration's position" (Balz, 8/11).

Politico reports: "President Barack Obama took direct aim at the vocal opponents who've been filling congressional town halls on health care Tuesday, saying despite all the 'yelling and the shouting and the noise,' health reform will improve the lives of Americans with and without health insurance. He also said special interests who oppose health reform always 'try to scare the heck out of folks, and they'll create boogeymen out there that just aren't real' to prevent change. He even sought to rebut directly one of the most widespread rumors - that the bills in Congress include so-called death panels to decide how much coverage people can receive" (Henderson, 8/11).

USA Today on its The Oval blog reported on protesters who "welcomed" Obama to New Hampshire: "Opponents arrived first -- some as early as 6:15 a.m. -- in small groups with hand-made signs. They drove for several hours from Massachusetts and Maine, as well as New Hampshire. Shortly after, proponents showed up in larger groups, some in buses with signs made by pro-Obama organizations such as Organizing for America and Health Care for America Now" (Wolf and Jackson, 8/11).

The Associated Press reports: "President Barack Obama is seeking to reassure the nation's seniors that [the] health care overhaul won't mean cuts in Medicare. ... The president reminded the crowd that AARP backs his effort and said the organization wouldn't take that step if it meant cuts in Medicare" (8/11).

In a separate article, the AP reports: "President Barack Obama is seeking to put to rest claims that the health care overhaul he seeks would set up "death panels" to rule on life-sustaining care for ailing seniors. It would not, and Obama stressed the point during a town hall meeting Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H." (8/11).

Market Watch reports that Obama fielded "questions from a polite audience after other town halls erupted into shouting matches about an overhaul" (Schroeder, 8/11).

CBS News reports on Obama's call for supporters with the president's statement: "I need your help if you want a health care system that works. ... Knocking on doors, talking to neighbors. Let's get this done" (Condon, 8/11).

A Wall Street Journal Washington Wire blog reports that Obama is trying to regain momentum amid increasing anger: "Obama will try to defuse such anger by going after the fuel that has supplied it: the sense among the vast majority of Americans – those with health insurance – that his plan has nothing for them" (Weisman, 8/11).

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