Addressing the idea of the so-called "death panels that will basically pull the plug on Grandma because we've decided that ... it's too expensive to let her live anymore," Obama pointed out that it was actually a Republican -- Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. -- who introduced that provision in the House bill dealing with end of life care.
"The irony is that, actually, one of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican ... who very sensibly thought this is something that would expand people's options," the president said.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin used the term in a Facebook posting, saying that it is "downright evil" for her parents and her baby to potentially have to "stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care."
Obama today defended his proposal for a health care panel, saying that it will put the decision in the hands of experts rather than insurance company bureaucrats.
"If we've got a panel of experts -- health experts, doctors -- who can provide guidelines to doctors and patients about what procedures work best in what situation, and find ways to reduce, for example, the number of tests that people take, these aren't going to be forced on people, but they will help guide how the delivery system works, so that you are getting higher quality care," the president said.
In selling his plan, Obama listed off the endorsements he has received from industry groups, but he may have overstated support when he said, "We have the AARP on board" and that "the AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare."
The organization refuted that statement, saying that while the organization shares the president's commitment to act this year and wants to work with lawmakers, "indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate."
At a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H. -- the first of three this week -- Obama took aim at his critics and those who create "wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed."
"They'll create boogeymen out there that just aren't real," he said to a cheering audience. "So this is an important and complicated issue that deserves serious debate. ... Every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got. ... This is what they always do."
The president also tried to alleviate Americans' concerns about what his plan entails.
"Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. If you like you health care plan, you can keep your health care plan," the president said. "I don't think government bureaucrats should be meddling, but I also don't think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling."
Obama's message today was targeted to a slightly different audience than his previous addresses. Instead of talking about the uninsured, the president focused more on what the elderly and the insured would get out of his plan.