Reaction to Obama's Health Care Plan

June 25, 2009 12:19:45 AM PDT
President Obama's health care plan is being analyzed closely in the Central Valley, which leads California in the rate of uninsured people.Almost 30% of the patients who go to local hospitals have no insurance, so the issue is especially critical here. But health care providers have very different views of whether the government should step in to foot the bill and keep costs down for the rest of us.

Patsy Montgomery knows the value of health insurance first hand after surviving colon cancer. Now, she works for Planned Parenthood, where a large majority of the patients are uninsured. And if she stops working, she wouldn't have insurance either. "Without an employer-covered plan, I'm uninsurable," she said. "Without health insurance, I would be dead."

Dr. Andre Minuth agrees with her that the American health care system saved her, but the nephrologist disagrees with her on just about everything else. "When I look at how many doctors are there and how much personnel are pushing paper," he said. "But that's not the government, that's health insurance companies," she replied.

Action News brought them together to watch Wednesday's town hall meeting. Minuth worries that President Obama's health care push is a stampede, bringing unnecessary change. "The basic system is the best existing," he said. "Are there changes? Yes. Continuously."

But Montgomery says the system is breaking, if it's not already broken. "If we don't do something, the costs keep going up," she said. "And the people who end up paying for it are the taxpayers."

As the president tries to refine his reforms, at least one thing is healthy: the debate itself. "Do you want to put in danger a system that's working well for 85% of the people?" Dr. Minuth asked. "Well, there are people who would argue that it's working well for 85% of the people," replied Montgomery.

President Obama said Wednesday that he hopes a grassroots effort will push Congress to act on health care reform by the end of the year. In Fresno, that starts Thursday with a rally in front of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office to urge her to action.

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