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Obama Uses Tele-Town Hall to Defend Health Care Reform

Although intended to promote his health care plans, President Barack Obama ended up using a Tuesday telephone “town hall meeting— with AARP members to mollify concerns about his proposals.Obama appeared at AARP headquarters in Washington where he took phone calls from seniors. The White House said more than 100,000 callers participated.The president compared the debate over his health plan to the one that previously took place over Medicare. In both debates, Obama said opponents sought to mischaracterize what’s being proposed.“Everybody is trying to scare the American people— into thinking Medicare would result in rationing or an inability “to choose your own doctor,— Obama said. “Medicare has been extraordinarily popular. It has worked.—Obama worked through just about every major argument being made against his health care initiative: He denied charges that it was an attempt to “socialize— medicine or that it would lead to rationing of care, and he rejected arguments that it would bust the federal budget.He also addressed concerns about his proposed Independent Medicare Advisory Council, saying it was not part of an effort to scale back Medicare.“It’s not a cost containment commission,— he said. “The idea is, how do you get the most value for your health care value?— Obama said the “objective— is to control costs, but “not by denying people care that they need, rather by changing the incentives and delivery system in health care so that people aren’t paying for care that they don’t need.—He said Medicare benefits will not be cut, but that he will seek to “eliminate some of the waste,— such as by curbing subsidies to insurance companies.Republicans argue that Obama’s proposals will lead to rationing of care and a type of socialism as the government insurance option puts private plans out of business and becomes the only available insurer.Senate Republicans have been hosting their own series of town hall meetings by telephone. Senate leaders said they have attracted 1 million listeners.

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