Obama Takes On Rationing, 'Death Panel' Rumors

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2009 1:21 PM CDT
Police work to control protesters at Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, NH, Tuesday, Aug. 11,2009, where President Obama will speak about his health care plan.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama took the stage in New Hampshire today to set the record straight about Democratic health care reform efforts. Though the crowd was all applause, Obama took on the raucous protests that have characterized recent town halls. “Let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations,” he said, laughing off rumors that the government would set up “death panels that will basically pull the plug on Grandma.”

“Right now, insurance companies are rationing care,” he said, promising to put those decisions in the hands of doctors instead. One Republican asked Obama if he thought private insurers could survive against a public option. Obama replied that he thought good insurers could compete. “If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine.” By the end, Obama was asking specifically for questions from skeptics. His final questioner asked why he hadn’t chastised lawmakers for not extending the system they used to the public. Obama said that was exactly what he wanted to do.