Obama Tries to Ease Concern Over Health Reforms

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President Barack Obama continued to try to calm fears Tuesday concerning his health care reforms at a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Outside the event, demonstrators lined the streets. Police were brought in for extra security. But inside, things were calmer and more controlled.
  
New Hampshire made good on its political reputation.  Its citizens are savvy and passionate about the issues.
    
At Tuesday's town hall meeting hosted by the president - there were no shortage of opinions.  He stepped directly into the fire, knowing that there have been similar protests playing out all across the country.
    
House Democratic leaders have labeled these protests un-American.  In contrast, President Obama called it a vigorous and healthy debate.

"One of the objectives of democracy and debate is that we start refining our own views because maybe other people have different perspectives or things we didn't think of. where we do disagree let's disagree over things that are real, not these misrpresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed," Obama said.  
            
Aides said Obama wants to highlight the benefits of his plan to Americans who already have coverage - like banning insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions or blocking companies from dropping coverage when someone becomes ill.

The president has also been corrected by the American Association for Retired Persons or AARP, one of his allies in the health care debate.

Obama claimed Tuesday during his town hall meeting that the AARP had endorsed the Democrats' health care reform plan. But the AARP said that statement is not true.

But more importantly, the president's message is being overwhelmed by mass protests and Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are taking the heat.

"We elected these people and they're not working for us," said Bonnie Hall, who opposes the bill. "They are ignoring us. Nancy Pelosi calling us un-American because we're coming to these things. You got to draw the line."

While the majority of protesters are against the reform plan, some, like Gloria Blue, are for it.

"I make a modest salary, I pay taxes. I'm a law-abiding citizen," she said. "I'm an American citizen, and I want health care for me and my daughter to make sure she gets everything she's entitled too."
     
A school teacher and mother of a five-year-old special needs daughter, Blue's insurance is not enough to cover all the health care bills.

"So it's like a catch 22. If my salary is too high I don't qualify for other subsidies that could help with trying to pay for some of her medical expenses and if I stay home then my family suffers because I'm the breadwinner and we just won't make enough," she added.
    
Both Blue - who is for the reform plan - and Hall, who is against it, said they will be watching closely and warn about the consequences of a casting the wrong vote.

"If our congressmen don't listen to us. 2010 is right around the corner and they're out," Hancock said.
    
For now, the debate is not over - and neither are scenes like the ones similar to the town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, the nation's largest business group is launching the biggest ad campaign so far in the debate. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce criticizes the plan, predicting big tax increases and huge deficits.

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