Obama: Health Care Reform Critics Are ‘Inventing Bogeymen’

By MichaelJames

Aug 15, 2009 6:01am

ABC News’ Sarah Tobianski and Sunlen Miller report:

President Obama used his weekly address to supplement the town hall meetings he’s held this week across the country, confronting, what he says, is scary-sounding confusion expressed by some in town halls across the country where "tempers have flared."

Obama pinpointed the debate over the end-of-life provisions in one version of Congress’ health care legislation. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sparked concern late last week when she drummed up the notion that the Obama administration wants to create “death panels,” and others have repeated her argument. 

It “began with the distortion of one idea in a Congressional bill that would allow Medicare to cover voluntary visits with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life care – if and only if you decide to have those visits,” the President says. “It had nothing to do with putting government in control of your decisions; in fact, it would give you all the information you need – if you want it – to put you in control of your decisions.”

President Obama said there should be greater concern on the health care front from maintaining the status quo.

“Those who would stand in the way of reform will say almost anything to scare you about the cost of action,” Obama said. “But they won’t say much about the cost of inaction. If you’re worried about rationed care, higher costs, denied coverage or bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor, then you should know that’s what’s happening right now.”

To combat critics’ claims, President Obama cited examples of people like Katie Gibson, who, as he said in a Montana town hall Friday, are “acting responsibly” but have been penalized in the current health care system.

“These are the stories that aren’t being told – stories of a health care system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people,” President Obama said. “And that’s why we’re going to pass health insurance reform that finally holds the insurance companies accountable.”

People such as Gibson, the president said, have been lost in the town hall chaos.

“I know there’s plenty of real concern and skepticism out there,” he said. “I know that in a time of economic upheaval, the idea of change can be unsettling, and I know that there are folks who believe that government should have no role at all in solving our problems.”

There are legitimate differences, Obama said, “worthy of the real discussion that America deserves – one where we lower our voices, listen to one another and talk about differences that really exist.”

In the GOP address, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, encouraged a continuation of the public debate over health care reform and bipartisan negotiations.

President Obama continues his health care push with a town hall in Grand Junction, Colo. this afternoon.

-Sarah Tobianski and Sunlen Miller

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