July 20th, 2009
05:48 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Health care battle

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/20/health.reform/art.obama.healthcare.presser.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Obama and Republican leaders traded attacks on Monday over health care reform."]
Jacob Smilovitz
AC360° Intern

Tonight, as Democrats and Republicans battle over health care reform, we dig deeper to find out what it all really means for you.

President Obama today tried to stand his ground in the face of a mounting onslaught of GOP attacks. And, in hopes of galvanizing his base, the president even returned to some of his campaign rhetoric.

"This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy,” the president said today in Washington. “And we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time, not now."

But on the other side, Republican leaders see their opportunity and are going on the offensive – with one GOP senator even declaring this Pres. Obama’s “Waterloo” moment.

RNC Chaiman Michael Steele lambasted Obama’s plan calling it a “dangerous experiment” that the country “cannot afford.”

The mounting storm over health care has battered President Obama’s once sky-high poll numbers. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows approval for Mr. Obama’s handling of health care has slipped 4 percentage points from last month and 9 points from April.

Is this just another case of partisan gridlock? Or do the republicans have legitimate concerns over health care reform?

We’ll discuss both the politics and the policy with Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Also on our radar, authorities are hinting at a new motive in the shocking double murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings, the Florida couple known for adopting special needs children. Sheriff David Morgan will join us once again tonight with all of the latest developments.

And discrimination in the waiting room? Some allege that America’s health care system is racist. 360° M.D. Sanjay Gupta talks with a man who went to the ER suffering from an infected paper cut. Wait till you see what he went through. We’re keeping them honest.

All of that, plus the latest in the fallout from Michael Jackson’s death and is Paula Abdul really done with American Idol? AC360° tonight at 10p ET.

Filed under: 360° Radar • The Buzz
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Christa Middler

    Can we ever leave the politics out of anything and focus on ideas and solutions! Even Cnn shows it cost 1,000,000,000 in big letters to reform Healthcare, but it doesn't show pictures enough of poeple, elderly and especially children who don't have any coverage! and
    what the cost would be down the road if we don't reform Healthcare.
    Even my husbands company just had to change healthcare with a larger deductible, because the cost with the previous carrier increased almost 30% from the previous year! (small business!) Though, I'm not complaining, because at least we still have Coverage! We comparing it to Canada's system, though Germany for e.g. has an employer based system, and the poeple are quite happy with their coverage. Here are some comments from an American living in germany with her family:

    The health care system that took such good care of Sabina is not funded by government taxes. But it is compulsory. All German workers pay about 8 percent of their gross income to a nonprofit insurance company called a sickness fund. Their employers pay about the same amount. Workers can choose among 240 sickness funds.

    Basing premiums on a percentage-of-salary means that the less people make, the less they have to pay. The more money they make, the more they pay. This principle is at the heart of the system. Germans call it "solidarity." The idea is that everybody's in it together, and nobody should be without health insurance.

    "If I don't make a lot of money, I don't have to pay a lot of money for health insurance," Sabina says. "But I have the same access to health care that someone who makes more money has."

    What struck me was "Solidarity", would it not be nice if the "United States"..." united" We say united... could we put politics aside and find some real solution, to take care of all our "neighbors" at least when they are sick!!!!! Healthinsurance should be a right and not a privilige!
    How can poeple sleep at night, knowing that other poeple are hurting, and we could so something about it? Shame on all of us, if we don't stand behind the President on this issue! I wrote many letters to our
    congress, however, I don't have tons of money to convince them, to do the right thing!!!!
    All of us should write and also our press, should not sensationalize
    the issue, which happens all the time, even on cnn (sorry!!!)
    We all have a repsonsibility towards our nation, and I do not consider that socialism!

    Therefore, AC please show an entire show, on poeple in this country who don't have coverage. Perhaps, that would wake up our
    Nation. Thank you.

    PS. Germany's healthcare system is 125 years old (Employer based) and reformed every 3 years. If they can do it, why can't we, I know we are a much larger country, but we still have more resources!!!

    July 21, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  2. Beth

    Obama's healthcare plan makes no sense. I have heard no one who wants it. We the people are against the ideas, so why won't the President respect that? Medicare should be reworked, possible taxes for employer provided health care, and clamping down on the health insurance companies plus pharmacutical firms where the waste and excesses lie.
    The inequalities in care are not racial, they are economic ,and insurance company related. When blacks are reported as being discriminated against, show the white man too getting the exact same treatment! It looks racial in the city but rural whites are in the exact same spot.
    It is socialist to mandate me to purcahse health care. My children have no responsibility to pay for the health care of 20 million illegals either; which are a huge welfare burden left to continue on and be funded. That is racial bias against the greater legal citizenry.

    July 21, 2009 at 6:32 am |
  3. Brandon

    We need health care reform... we can argue about the details of the reform but there is no doubt reform is needed. Every American deserves to have access to the health care system.

    I don't believe denying health care to Americans is incentive to better themselves through 'hard work'. In fact, I believe it would much more likely do the opposite - prevent people from bettering there lives. Sick Americans deserve a chance to get healthy and get back to there families and careers.

    Dragging our feet on real health care reform will be another slap in the face to the middle class - as hard working middle class Americans are often the face of the uninsured. Too poor to afford it and not poor enough to get it for free.

    Unfortunately republicans don't care about health care reform - they just want Obama to fail in hopes to regain voters. After all, preventing him from doing good for American's is a win for them politically.

    July 21, 2009 at 4:33 am |
  4. Lori

    I was once told by my son's pediatrician when our insurance coverage changed, he could only spend three minutes with us instead of the 20-minute visits he had with us previous to the change. We spent most of our time with his nurse after that. His explanation?That's what your new insurance company pays for. (The rates negotiated between his office and our new insurance company were lower). This is enough evidence for me that the quality of the doctor's visit is dependent upon insurance coverage. However, I think that the problem is greed on the part of the doctor. I am glad we had the freedom to change doctors.

    July 21, 2009 at 3:29 am |
  5. Ed Mattson

    If the previous 8 years of Republican rule are any indication of how this critical debate will end I should be worried sick. It will be like letting the foxes into the hen house. Can you really tell me you trust the Republicans to be telling the American people the truth about this thing? They are in bed with the fat cats in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and have only one thing in mind – to kill this puppy before it has legs. Every major improvement in middle class lives in this country has come under Democratic and union leadership. Do you really think President Obama will lead us astray? I for one am not worried about his plans. Now is not the time to chicken out on the greatest opportunity in a generation for real change. We need to stay the course. I and my wife have both used Canadian healthcare services as tourists and been completely satisfied each time and surprised how reasonable the costs. Be honest with yourself; what happens to Republican aspirations if President Obama accomplishes this thing that has eluded us for 50 years? Of course they will say anything to kill it!

    July 21, 2009 at 3:16 am |
  6. Kelen F.

    It's incredible that people did not realize yet that same tax money that is feeding prisoners in the jails, is the money that will help to treat people that does not have how to pay private health care. It looks like we need to start killing people and just go to jail in order to have a clean bed and food every single day...

    July 21, 2009 at 2:16 am |
  7. Janine from PA.

    Remember what Ehrlicman said to Nixon about creating HMO: More profit, less health care. Opposite needs to happen.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:48 am |
  8. J.V.Hodgson

    This as usual ends up being a political football and not the real issue of the health and welfare of the populace generally, where it should be.
    1) Per capita cost is $8k. Average elsewhere globally $4-6k.
    2) Canadian and most European systems work on the basis of Employer and Employee contributions to a national plan and all must contribute about 50/50. and is not tax deductible by the employee but is by the employer. Not sure re Canada but none of the European systems prevent you, if you can afford, to have additional private cover on top, non tax deductible of course.
    3) Illegal aliens have no green card or social security number and should be excluded = you pay indirectly to be an illegal!! Or go home!!
    4) Medical malpractice should be capped in this legislation and is why private health care costs more than it should in the US. Money never compensates for the loss of a loved one,or the pain associated, with a lifetime on needed health care.
    5) Having 47m people unable to have health care means America is not a No1 nation.
    6) When even people with private cover can go to India or the middle east for major surgery and do it at less cost than the deductible that says the private system is very SICK!
    7) The only problem with Obama's idea and current billplans is not enough savings are being demanded from The Medical profession, ( not nurses &support staff) pharmacists and Big pharma.None of these people are poor, but hugely above average percapita income.
    Republicans are behaving as usual, being negative and avoiding the issue of 47m genuine Americans.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:47 am |
  9. nicole johnson

    universal health care?? what does that mean? will people that dont work for a living get even more benefits. equal care for everyone seems like a fair statement..what about the people that are already abusing the system...they get more than those who actually are respnsible and pay their insurance premiums regardless of cost because its important 2 my family?!
    i personally know and even employ "system milkers" that drive 2 work in a escalade and their children have free preschool and healthcare. while i drive my 2003 dodge durango and pay my own payroll.insurance and childcare. what's wrong with this picture!
    Another couple i know make 145K a yr. he works construction in iraq So no taxes at all plus free childcare as income is unreported.
    the kicker is my brother n sister n law just recieved a raise....now they're considering a "divorce on paper" so they can still get free healthcare for their 6 children! where is our personal responsibility?
    if we cant be personably responsible how can we expect our government to?!

    July 21, 2009 at 1:46 am |
  10. Janine from PA.

    I say we demand that congress take their free health care systen away from themselves and deal with HMOs. You'll see how fast they put together a decent health care system.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:39 am |
  11. Kevin Joubert

    I think we need to adopt the Canadian Health care system. I also believe when it comes to making the final decision we need to have every American vote on it just like an election.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:39 am |
  12. Diane

    Dear Anderson
    You are always discussing fair and balanced and keeping them honest, why then are you not notifying seniors that tremendous cuts to Medicare are in the proposed medical bill. This will be devastating hardship to most seniors. They need to contact their represenatives before it is to late.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:36 am |
  13. Kawika

    Watching tonight about a story on health care diff. for medicad and privete insurance. There should be a differance, I pay GOOD money for my insurance and my taxes pay for their medicad. I should get better service I pay they dont... I know i know they dont have the chances i have... bla bla bla. I hade nothing and was in court. judge said go to jail or service. I did AIR FORCE and 10 years later I got a BBA and a good job and am tired of ppl saying they cant make it. that is a just a lazy man talk. I should get better service and I expect it, if i dont i go somewhere else.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:36 am |
  14. Sasha Laing

    I totally support President Obama's strides to provide universal healthcare for all American citizens. We cannot be a nation that bails out the rich with taxpayer dollars and yet allows our most vulnerable sick to die because of being uninsured. I am a recent widow and saw my husband's care suffer because he was temporarily without health benefits. He had tried to obtain individual insurance but was turned down everywhere because of a minor issue. He suffered a heart attack and subsequently died. He was 47 and we have a 12 year old daughter who is currently in Washington, for a Junior Young Leaders Conference.

    July 21, 2009 at 1:23 am |
  15. Desi Rawson

    What happened to the majority that voted for President Obama and put him in office? Did they think they could just vote him in and then he would fix it without their help or criticism from the "DC Political Agenda" that continues to go on as I turn 50?

    I was born in Washington, DC. I am a 50 year-old white woman who thought that the world had finally "got it". If you do not live in DC and have not experienced the power and the "demunitive nature" of politics in Washington, DC, you NEED TO WAKE UP.

    If you are living in California, living in Chicago, New York or any of the other "large" cities in the United States of America, you will NEVER know how fast that the politicians in Washington, DC, will take our new President down.

    Please, Ellen Degeneres, Queen LaTifah (sp?), et al. DON'T STOP PAYING ATTENTION. If you do Washington will take our President DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    Our support must stand steadfast...


    Desi Rawson

    July 21, 2009 at 1:17 am |
  16. Tom in VA

    Healthcare is a complicated problem. Americans generally dont understand things that are complicated and want simple solutions to complicated problems. Thats why the Republicans are licking their chops. They see a chance to make President Obama look bad by not passing a health care plan – thats the bottom line.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:50 am |
  17. George Tugman

    I was born in Toronto, Canada and have lived there ever since. My parents were very poor; however, because of our health care and public education systems, I was able to live a blessed life, like millions of other Canadians. I am now retired so I have been around for a few years and over this time my parents, my siblings, my wife, my children, my grandchildren, our many firiends and their families, have had many, many minor and major health problems. Like everyone in Canada, when these occurred there never, ever was any doubt if a sick baby, child, teenager, adult, senior should be taken to see a doctor, go to the hospital, have an operation, etc.,. since the cost was covered. In general, all of these procedures were done in a timely fashion.

    I know a bit of what it is like to live in the US, as my wife and I now spend the three winter months in Florida to escape our cold Canadian climate. We love it when we are there. But it breaks my heart to know that 12% of the children in your country are not covered by Health Insurance. How can you continue to let this go on?

    My Jewish friends tell me that there is a Yiddish/English expression that they often use after they have said goodbye to someone that they maybe haven't seen for a while. It's "Zei Gezunt (Be well). That's the main thing". I think there may be a lot of wisdom in those words.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:41 am |
  18. Jim McElfresh

    When my family and I lived in the UK during the late mid-1950's we had health care sponored by the UK, it was and still is wonderful . The garbage and scare tactics spread by the Republi-nazi's just isn't going to work any more...You lost the election, your moral majority is the unmoral minority, give it up your done, get over it and move on with your small little narrow minded lifes.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:35 am |
  19. KEN

    Maybe the first step is acounability! People abuse the system day in and day out. People call 911 for problems that can be handled at a doctors office. People ignore that they need to be responsible and seek preventative care and not wait till they are sick. NO healthcar for illegals imagrants should be paid by taxpayers. The are criminals being here in this country illegally! Maybe insurance should be non-profit. This would decrease premiums. I agree that medical malpractice needs reform. Stop letting laywers advertise that you can sue drig companies for rare side effects that medicines can cause. What about the good those drugs do for the majority?

    July 21, 2009 at 12:33 am |
  20. LittleRockMike

    I will put this government's health care program against the private insurance Co., drug makers & ad agencies and the American people will in the long run, choose the governments. You know this government will make it less bureaucrat, include all citizens and lower cost. Leave the insurance money changers dealth & property work, they will make enough, O'yet investment games. The money grabbing politicians are in the pockets of these insurance game players. Doctors and their staff are covered up in paper work and unhealthty decisions made by the insurance gaints, its time for them to go! A commission of doctors and other health professional for each region of the nation will work better for the people, deciding medical needs.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:29 am |
  21. Will

    Ok Cindy...thats an example of one incident of bad health care in Canada. That doesn't mean it represents the whole system. There are horror stories just like that in the US....don't be naive.

    Look at the big picture not what news stories and exposes tell you....they are only ever one picture and one point of view.

    I live in Canada, and have a very large family and we all have very good coverage and are very happy. No one has ever had to wait for surgery for long. Come live here and try it out before you put it down.

    I lived in California for 2 years and the medical system was a nightmare for us. I am not saying it is for everyone but it was for us. Really bad and expensive.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:25 am |
  22. Rosemary Gabel

    We, the consumers are not informed enough to make a judgement of this Health Care plan, and as usual, all we can really do is hope.,
    but Anderson, I would really like you to do an IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION of how and why the Health Insurers in this country are contributing to the monumental costs! The doctors say they have to charge high prices because of medical malpractice insurance costs, Every medical billing I see is "Adjusted" downward, because mine is paid by Medicare.. A recent ambulance trip to the ER was billed at over $1400. for a 2 mile ride..(while I was feeling fine..) but adjusted down to $200.
    A dental Cleaning was charged at $1500... who is regulating the dentists? I'm fortunate.. those without insurance are going bankrupt, or just slowly dying.
    We put men on the moon, and in between in space, for ...sake!
    How can we get the politicians OUT of this, and put the accountants to work? They understand the bottom line.
    Thanks for providing us a place to ask .. someone who cares.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:21 am |
  23. kathy

    I too am concerned with the impact of health reform on the working middle class. My 30 year old son has just had his health insurance dropped from his job. If this bill goes through, I am positive that he and others will be terminated from their jobs. As a parent, I take up the slack to see that he has some coverage. The government should not be the insurer of everyone. Where is individual responsibilty. Also on Dr. Gupta's report on discrimination, I believe there is discrimination in the health system based on poverty and education. The 2 patients he talked about certainly were not given proper care or diagnosis. As a 7th grade science teacher, I was able to diagnose them immediately and I am sure some of my students could also. (There was something terribly wrong with the staff of that clinic) The public needs to make sure that through their education they not only learn basic fundamentals, but that they apply that knowledge to their own lives.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:21 am |
  24. Jose

    I strongly agree with the health care reform program of the president particularly the option to get a public health insurance. In this manner, the major players in the program specifically the doctors will now become more prudent and conscientious in the delivery of their services as they will now be put under the scrutiny of the government or the public as their services will now be vested with public interests. This will help not only to lower the cost of insurance but also improve the health services as doctors will have second thought in resorting to trial and error which are prevalent in their private practice as their present services will now be covered with public accountability.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:06 am |
  25. Roberta

    It may be bad having to wait to see a doctor, but with health care reform maybe I can actually wait to see one instead of having to skip it all together because I can't afford it.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  26. Carolyn

    Clarification, the most a state of Florida employee paid if they were not in management, again these individuals insurance premiums are paid by taxpayers, is $180.00 a month for a family plan.

    July 20, 2009 at 11:59 pm |
  27. Joan

    I think those politicians that think health care reform is too expensive should be willing to give up their FREE HEALTH CARE because, unlike those that do not have heath care, wealthy politicians can afford to pay for theirs. The government can use the money to help those that cannot afford insurance for themselves and their children. I find it mindless and even criminal that we must pay, through our taxes, for wealthy politicians to stay healthy, when we cannot afford health care for our family. Why should a minimum wage worker pay for a millionaires health care?

    July 20, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  28. Hank

    Well, let it be said that we can't afford to rush this through with out carefully looking at every aspect. But then again, we can't afford to do nothing. Difficult situation!

    July 20, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  29. Faith

    Keeping them honest...please explain what the health care program provides for our elected Reps and Senators...Do they have the same options/lack there of, costs, and potential to be dropped that mainstream American citizens have??
    If not...how can we expect them to provide a health care plan for ALL Americans?
    Finally, why should they rush to approve a plan before their summer break. Perhaps they should work through the summer break...like summer school for those who work to improve performance...

    Please help us all to understand. Thanks for listening

    July 20, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  30. Harry

    Every American should be offered the same health care insurance provided members of congress. They, in turn, should receive nothing more than that offered our poorest citizens. Having them live with what they make available to everyone else would get some pretty fast action.

    The success of a society is determined by the condition of its least fortunate members, not its wealthiest.

    July 20, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  31. Dick

    My wife and I had very good coverage with a company with over 5,000 employees in the plan. The company hired United Health Care to manage the plan but the company paid the health care costs, administrative costs and a reasonable profit to United Health Care. Now we have Medicare and TriCare which operate in a similar way. These government managed plans work very well. (My wife has high medical expenses that are fully covered). The company coverage could handle people with high expenses because they could spread the cost over so many employees. I would like to know more about how small employers would handle an employee with high costs. Now such an employer might see his costs become unaffordable. What are the plans for small employers to join in a large insurance pool? How could any health insurance plan that relies on individual coverage work? Is that what the Republicans are backing? No insurance company in the world would give us an individual plan that is affordable. My wife's expenses average $70,000 a year or more . Note: I have a daughter and son-in-law with no health insurance. That worries me a lot and that is why I am supporting health care reform.

    July 20, 2009 at 11:41 pm |
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