Health Care Town Halls Still Hotly Divided

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WASHINGTON -- You may not be hearing as much about them, but people are still turning out for those health care town hall meetings.

Former Democratic Chairman Howard Dean is weighing in on the issue and he's hearing from the public as well.

Arguments broke out before a Reston, Va., town hall began, and the boos and shouts grew so loud when Dean tried to speak, he had to give up for awhile.

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry was booted out for shouting "baby-killer" at Dean.

When things settled down, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., defended government getting involved in health care in a much bigger way.

"Because I think we're over-weighted in terms of dependency on the insurance companies for making the most crucial life and death decisions and I think we need to intervene," Moran said.

But there were plenty of skeptics, like those who doubt government can take on covering all the millions of people not now covered.

"I'm very concerned about where the money's going to come from. I honestly don't see adding 47 million more uninsured without adding any more doctors and having a shortage of nurses," Arlington, Va., resident John Leisenring said.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a big backer of reform, admits the divisions are so deep, there'll be no health care bill before Christmas -- if ever.

He's telling constituents that's too bad because private insurance for health care is becoming so expensive, some Wisconsin families are just going without.

"We don't want to ration health care for our family and so a public option would allow families like us more options," Katrina Becker said at a Wisconsin town hall.

But skeptics tell Feingold they don't trust government to get reform right.

"I'm a little apprehensive about government being involved in any decision regarding my health care. With all due respect, Senator, the government can't even run a $3 billion car rebate program," Darrin Stanke told Feingold at his town hall meeting.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is meeting with the same kind of skepticism at his town halls, and expresses some of it himself, warning government could do more harm than good.

"We do not want to destroy the highest quality health care in the world. We don't want to harm it," McCain told constituents that gathered at an Arizona town hall meeting.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.