McCaskill tries to clear up confusion about health care reform proposals

Thursday, August 27, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:10 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009
Victoria Babin of Laurie complains to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill about proposed health care legislation at a town hall meeting at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City. Victoria and her husband, Robert, said they were addressing their grievances not with reform but with this specific bill.

JEFFERSON CITY — Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill attempted to dispel rumors about health care legislation Wednesday night but still faced opposition from a vocal audience.

McCaskill continued her tour of conducting health care forums in Missouri cities, an effort to educate the public on the issues and also listen to residents' concerns.


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A line of more than 500 people, some of whom had to be turned away, snaked around Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City. Several people in the line said town hall meetings can be an important outlet for getting answers to health care issues that have confused them, adding that it can often be because of misinformation.

"There's misinformation coming daily from the flim-flam in Washington, D.C," said Rita Hammerly, 45, of California, Mo. "They threw the gas on the fire, and now they need to let us voice our opinions."

Although some blamed confusion on politicians, others said Republicans have been the major culprits, an argument that echoes sentiments expressed by President Barack Obama.

"There's a faction out there is inciting people and doing scare tactics," said Kenneth Ferguson, 58, a First Ward councilman in Jefferson City. "Take time to read the bill. We need to wait and let both sides compromise."

Reading the bill was echoed throughout the evening. Linda Tillinghast of Holts Summit said the language can be very confusing, pushing people to turn to others for their information.

"A lot (of the confusion) is because no one really knows what's in the bill," she said. "We certainly don't know. We have to rely on other interpretations. We don't know what it's about, and that's why everyone is scared."

McCaskill also encouraged attendants to read the bill for themselves at, where they can also view 52 hours of video in which a Senate committee debates a version of the bill.

"It might be a way, face-to-face, to see what happened on this bill instead of some of the misinformation that's gotten out," she said.

The senator faced boos throughout the evening as she answered questions, written and spoken, from audience members.

The first comment, read by McCaskill, was, "Obama has the death book open, ready to euthanize." It was in reference to "death panels," a concern stemming from the proposal of end-of-life plans, which would give families the ability to decide a plan in the case that someone would become unable to make the choice of life or death.

McCaskill assured the crowd none of the proposals under consideration provide such panels.

"The irony of misinformation out there is that the bill is trying to do exactly the opposite," McCaskill said. "The idea of death panels is clearly wrong and meticulous. It's just so silly we would do anything like that."

McCaskill also tried to dispel the rumor that abortion would be covered under the new health plan. She said that would be impossible unless an amendment was inserted to repeal the black-letter law, which prohibits the federal government from funding abortion.

The crowd, though disorderly throughout the entire event (McCaskill said it was the most impolite yet), seemed to quiet down when McCaskill dispelled the rumors. After that, though, the crowd and McCaskill butted heads on issues the senator said they would never agree on, such as the impact of illegal immigration, funding and the constitutionality of the legislation.

Although many attendees, along with McCaskill, discussed the misinformation floating around, they said these town hall meetings can help educate people who aren't entirely familiar with the issue.

"These town hall meetings are good," Ferguson said. "It gets people involved. It gets them to exercise the process and let their elected officials know what they think."

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Ray Shapiro August 27, 2009 | 1:21 a.m.

("Your organization has been cited by Obama's Press Secretary as planting those people who protest from those town hall meetings. Is that true?

First of all, it's not true and I really take exception to it.
-- this is permissible within our nation as a matter of good strategy. And good manners are called for. -- Go to meetings show up, -- and there's good reason for it.
Now I mean I don't know who all these people are.
What really strikes me, is that these people look to me like pretty much normal run of the mill ordinary American citizens. And I think the part of the story that's not being told, and not measured properly by the press and certainly not by the Democrats. Is they have raised the anxiety of the American people on the most heartfelt sector of the economy-- my health care and that of my children!
And they go to town hall meetings--they don't expect to see and hear that expressed.
And I think they've made a mistake from that--I don't think anybody is an incursion.
I'd be concerned if I was Nancy Pelosi. Ordinary run of the mill, real citizens have shown up full of fear and anger and frustration.")
source and more:
email from Obama's Change Today...

A quick recap from Monday's Moberly event.
Our caravan escorted 17 pro reform consituents to the Town Hall and we were fortunate to ask 2 of the 15 questions drawn. We feel this was a success. The more supporters we have the better chance we have of steering the discussion. Now we have an even better chance to speak our voice in this debate as Wednesday's Town Hall in Jefferson City has moved to later in the day.

Senator McCaskill's Health Care Forum in Jefferson City has had a time change.
Doors now open at 5:30 and the event kicks off at 6:00 PM.
Lewis and Clark Middle School
Jefferson City, MO 6510
Details and RSVP:

It is not necessary to RSVP on the above link...but it helps, and provides an opportunity to give input into the discussion. I attended the Moberly event. It seemed to be about 50 or 60% folks opposed to reform. We need more supporters to turn out. Claire manages these very nastiness or name calling took place...come on out!


Thank you

Change Today


--The Candy Stripers are still Organizing...

(Report Comment)
Roy Mennick August 27, 2009 | 11:51 a.m.

In response to Ray's comments, e.g. "they have raised the anxiety of the American people on the most heartfelt sector of the economy-- my health care and that of my children!"

You need to think about who "they" is. "They" are not the people who wrote the bill. "They" are political operatives out there pumping you full of fear as a means to get you to oppose any kind of progress for healthcare. "They" are making things up just to scare you.

Every time I turn on Fox News they are selling the fear. You linked to Fox and a clip of a gentleman, Dick Armey, whose organization has asked people to go to town halls and be disruptive and shout down representatives.

Yes, real people are showing up as you say, "full of fear and anger and frustration". Those are real emotions by real people. But the REASON they feel this way is that they watch people like Glenn Beck or listen to Rush Limbaugh who make millions by scaring the heck out of people. These guys have no interest in solutions; they simply want to politically oppose anything done by our President. So the people expressing their outrage are actually unwitting puppets in this silly game of misinformation. It's quite sinister when you think about it.

To all - as we continue to figure out what is needed to fix our healthcare system, please educate yourself, think for yourself, and fight the forces who want you to let irrational emotions take over.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 27, 2009 | 1:47 p.m.

>>> To all - as we continue to figure out what is needed to fix our healthcare system, please educate yourself, think for yourself, and fight the forces who want you to let irrational emotions take over. <<<


(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 27, 2009 | 2:09 p.m.

Roy, can you please show some evidence that Freedom Works (Dick Armey's group) has said what you claimed? I don't believe that is a correct statement, but wouldn't mind being proven wrong if I am.

(Report Comment)
Roy Mennick August 27, 2009 | 3:04 p.m.

Hi John,

Here you go. Be sure to click the link showing the memo from MacGuffie.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 27, 2009 | 4:20 p.m.

Ah, the MacGuffie memo. This is the link, correct?

A little Googling led me to MacGuffie's website which linked to this piece I had seen before pretty much debunking the link between MacGuffie and Freedom Works:

Here is the link to the Tea Party Patriots site (note it is a group on the social networking site Ning):

MacGuffie has a profile and a few blog posts there. The site also links to which has Freedom Works (and several other organizations) listed as a partner at the bottom. That's a far cry from claiming MacGuffie is a Freedom Works volunteer or employee as some blog postings I saw claimed.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 27, 2009 | 4:37 p.m.

("You need to think about who "they" is. "They" are not the people who wrote the bill. "They" are political operatives out there pumping you full of fear as a means to get you to oppose any kind of progress for healthcare. "They" are making things up just to scare you.")
I don't consider feeling anxious as paralyzing fear.
I consider it a red flag for concern. When I'm concerned I get curious. When I get curious I seek out information. Researching and questioning gets me answers. Sometimes it creates even more questions.
I don't like the answers I am getting regarding the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, ACORN, Van Jones, the authors of HC 3200 and socialized medicine vis a vis a government insurance industry coup.
I've heard some great alternatives to Obama's HC 3200 which are more "American/Constitutional" health care regulatory and procedural ideas from the "THEY" group.
I know many Democrats have good intentions, but blind obedience to the progressive left's agenda will only serve to extend citizen dependency on government, in every area of our lives.
The war continues in the middle east, trillions upon trillions of debt ensues, government is practically taking over Wall Street and now Obama wants a monopoly on citizen health care.
Exactly what are we missing here?

("America really has three health-care sectors. The socialized part or government sector comprises about 65–70 percent and includes Medicare, Medicaid, and the Indian Health Service. It also includes the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Public Health Service, programs such as KidCare, and the bulk of medical research. The latter includes the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, National Heart Institute, and about 30 other government institutes. The “donors” for research in these institutes have little say over what or how wisely their health-research dollars are spent.

All the above are funded from taxes confiscated from the people at the point of a gun, making this a less-than-compassionate system. All are insulated from the health-care marketplace and thus from rational decision-making. All are run as huge bureaucracies, with their inherent problems of fraud and high administrative overhead. Medicare rules alone are 133,000 pages in length. This makes the 10,000-page income-tax code look like a model of simplicity.")
source and more:
America’s Socialized Health Care
by Lawrence Wilson, M.D., Posted January 24, 2005

(Report Comment)
Roy Mennick August 27, 2009 | 5:09 p.m.

Whoa, didn't realize I had a couple of real-life idealogues on here. I'm no democrat (nor republican). It's too bad the anti-Obama agenda is throwing such a wrench in grown up discussions of health care.

As to the "MacGuffie" memo, John, you may be right. Maybe MacGuffie is just some lone wingnut with no direct affiliation with Freedom Works. Maybe they are both just fans of the Tea Party Patriots, a dubious group. The point of referencing all this in the first place is that Fox et al are cheerleading all of the brutish behavior that is designed to shut down debate rather than enhance it. And if you consistently expose yourself to that kind of influence, it is bound to shape your opinions and your emotions. Fox is not demanding vigorous debate but it is fomenting vigorous emotion. And that is damaging.

As I said previously, better to think for yourself than to pollute your mind with frivolous political banter.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 27, 2009 | 7:44 p.m.

Hmm, I ask for evidence of linkage to a particlar organization, question said report, and that makes me an idealogue? Yet you can call the Tea Party Patriots, a group that probably none of us here really know anything about, "dubious" or MacGuffie a "wingnut" without the brush splattering you?

I'm not anti-Obama, I'm anti-big government. Seems like Obama is a third Dubya term from what I've seen, just a bit more eloquent.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 27, 2009 | 7:51 p.m.

Personally, I prefer dialog over idealogue, however there are very few community focus groups or "brainstorming" workshops taking place and we instead cull through information shared via more impersonal and unsavory venues.
Thank those who set up forums which pit people against people and placate those who choose to be rubber stampers, blind, ignorant, obedient cheerleaders of the party in power for keeping alternative solutions of reform/adjustments at bay.
IMHO, a primary reason for Obama seeking the government's offering of its own "health care insurance policy" is that this government needs the cash flow to help defray the current waste/expense/loss/fraud in their current "entitlement" programs.
Total elimination of Private Companies offering Health Insurance policies would of course give the Feds a monopoly on that industry. Until then, securing a greater market share will help their cause. (It's not about competition, it's about elimination.)
What's even stranger is that we don't look at the difficulties and strain such an ambitious government goal places on elected officials, such as in Wales, where their "socialized health care system" actually has to go back and recreate the private nonprofit sector.
("The Third Sector and the recession in Wales:
There can be little doubt that the Welsh economy now faces a period of recession, if not prolonged depression and that there is a loss of confidence in existing financial systems and arrangements.
This will result in higher levels of unemployment, particularly in the manufacturing and retail sectors, reduced GDP, house prices, low returns on savings, and reduced consumer spending.
source and more:
("Designed to Add Value
- a third dimension
A strategic direction for the voluntary & community sector in supporting Health and Social Care")

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 27, 2009 | 8:59 p.m.

("Rather than increase governmental spending and control, what we need to do is address the root causes of disease and poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for their own health. Unfortunately many of our health care problems are self-inflicted with over 2/3 of Americans now overweight and 1/3 obese. Most of the diseases which are both killing us and making health care so expensive-heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, which account for about 70% of all health care spending, are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal or no alcohol consumption, and other healthy lifestyle choices.")
source and more:

(Report Comment)

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