Health care reform debate heats up in Eastern Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health care reform debate heats up in Eastern Iowa

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by Bryan Goettel

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - It appears to be the great debate of 2009 -- health care reform.

Not much of a break for lawmakers, as across the nation they are being grilled on proposed policies.

It's no different here in Iowa with Iowa senators and congressmen appearing in several different areas across the state Wednesday. 

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D) is saying it may be the most important issue he's dealt with since he's been in office: health care reform. And his crusade across Iowa's second district to get a bill passed is in full swing.

Cheers and applause followed Loebsack moments after he met with reporters about a nationwide campaign for health care reform.

"I'm behind this bill because the status quo just isn't working," supporter of the bill Andrew Mertens said.

But not everyone that showed up outside of the congressman's downtown Iowa City office agrees.

"I cannot imagine how this plan will reduce the cost of health care or will reduce the size of government," opponent of the bill Deborah Thornton said. 

It's a debate that's stirring across the country. Loebsack is jumping in the middle of it, hoping to clear up what many supporters of the bill are calling misinformation.

"I think a lot of people don't have all the information about the particular bill that I'll be talking about that I voted on but clearly as I said these are life and death situations for folks too," Loebsack said. "Health care is that critical."

"The misinformation is not out there," Thornton said. "The misinformation is coming from the White House."

Thornton and many opponents of the bill don't want a government take-over of health care. Supporters say the reform will simply give people more choices.

"A public health insurance option is just that," Mertens said. "It's an option."

Mertens described Wednesday's showing of opinions civil. Loebsack is prepared to see things intensify at his series of town halls beginning this weekend.

"Clearly, there's no doubt about it, people feel very strongly about these issues and I'm going to do the best I can to answer the questions and, as I said, allay some of the fears as well," Loebsack said.

Loebsack's first of 16 town halls comes Saturday at Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids. But the heat is already on.

"They're screening questions," Thornton said. "They're letting in the people that they want in. They're letting in only favorable people."

Thornton says she was told about the screening directly from Loebsack's office. But the congressman's people say there will be no pre-screening at the town halls and questions will be chosen at random.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel
White House Health Reform Site
House of Representatives Committee Health Reform Bill
Senate Committee Health Reform Bill

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