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Rowdy crowd grills congressmen over healthcare reform

U.S. lawmakers have a big battle ahead in September. What should they do about the nation's healthcare system?
U.S. lawmakers have a big battle ahead in September. What should they do about the nation's healthcare system? Those pushing for change say too many Americans are uninsured or not covered for all their illnesses. And they say for those who are happy with their coverage the cost will get out of control in a matter of years.

Democratic representatives Mike Ross and Vic Snyder both came to Little Rock Wednesday to explain what changes could be coming. And Arkansans got a chance to sound off too.  It was a loud crowd at Arkansas Children's Hospital and everybody had something to say.

Mike Massucco said his biggest fear is a government run healthcare option. He said, "it undermines the whole capitalistic system. With them they say, 'no, we're not going to have a government option.' They will and of course nobody can compete with the government."

Mike Ross is the chairman of the Blue Dog Democrats, the conservative group that slowed down the vote on healthcare reform. Ross says right now there are 5 different bills floating around and lawmakers need to look closely at each one before making a final decision.

"It's not that the American people do not want healthcare reform. They want the right kind of reform and they don't want it to be rushed," Ross said.

Congressman Vic Snyder says something must be done because at this rate, the number of uninsured will keep climbing as premiums go so high that insurance will become unaffordable. "If we don't do something their current coverage will change. And that's the message I think we need to get out today," Snyder said.

Ross says he won't vote for rationed care or federally funded abortions or coverage for illegal immigrants. And as for the cost, "we have to first squeeze all the inefficiencies out of the current very broken healthcare system before we ask the American people to pay another dime," Ross said.

Now as for Mr. Massucco's concern that a government plan would run private healthcare out of business, Representative Ross said the plan he voted on in the energy and commerce committee would level the playing field. That bill would require the government to negotiate with providers just the same as private insurance companies, so the government wouldn't be able to offer dramatically lower rates.

Snyder and Ross say they would not support a completely government-run, single-payer health insurance plan. There will be 10 more legislative votes before any health care reform bill becomes final. Lawmakers will get back to work on health care in September after the August recess ends.
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