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Why Are PA Town Hall Meetings on Health Care Losing Control?

August 10, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - In Pennsylvania and around the nation, recent town hall meetings held by elected officials to discuss health care reform have turned into free-for-alls, with politicians and proponents being shouted down by those who say government has no role in the matter. Why is it happening and who's responsible?

Chuck Pennacchio with Health Care for All Pennsylvania says the town hall gatherings are being crashed by opponents of government-driven health care reform.

"Those are people who desperately want to beat back any kind of reform where the government would play an increased role in either funding or providing health care."

Recently in Philadelphia, Senator Arlen Specter was heckled by protesters who accused him of not having read the entire health care reform bill.

Pennacchio says it's not only politicians feeling the wrath of the town hall protests.

"The proponents of health care reform are, in many cases, being shouted down by overwhelming numbers of individuals who are being bussed from location to location; clearly there's a manipulative force behind what's going on here."

Pennacchio says the scenario, as it plays out currently, has no winning side.

"Neither the proponents, nor the objectors to the proponents, are engaged in a constructive discussion about what would be the actual outcome of proposals specifically coming from the Obama administration."

Pennacchio, whose group supports a publicly-funded, privately-delivered, single-payer plan, suspects the health insurance industry is playing a role in the disruptions. The industry has stayed quiet, but the Republican National Committee, which has also been implicated, denies any part in organizing the confrontations.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA