MoveOn.org is Trying to Mobilize Activists to Attend Town Hall Meetings to Push for ‘Public Option’ Health Care

August 13, 2009 - 8:29 AM
While President Obama has focused attention on special interests that he says are mobilizing to try to defeat his health-care plan, the liberal group MoveOn.org is trying to mobilize people to attend congressional town hall meetings to push for the plan.

A man holds a sign as President Obama's motorcade heads to a town hall on health care reform, Wednesday, July 29, 2009, near a supermarket in Bristol, Va. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(CNSNews.com) - While President Obama has focused attention on "special interests" that are mobilizing to try to defeat his health-care plan, the liberal group MoveOn.org is trying to mobilize people to attend congressional town hall meetings to push for the plan, and especially to push for a government-run “public option” insurance program.

MoveOn.org is even suggesting brief statements people can make in favor of a “public option” health care plan if they attend a town hall, and gives people the opportunity to download signs indicating their approval of the "public option" that they can print and carry into the meetings.

The lead article on MoveOn.org’s Web site yesterday and this morning is headlined, “It’s Getting Ugly.”

“Right-wing extremists are disrupting town hall meetings with attacks on President Obama’s plans for health care and clean energy,” it says. “But we’re showing Congress that ordinary Americans continue to support his agenda for change.”

If visitors to the site then click on a link labeled, “Get materials to attend a town hall near you,” they are directed to a list of three suggested statements and a question they can use at town hall meetings, as well as additional links to ready-made posters that can be downloaded and printed.

“I’m here to urge you to push for passage of a health care reform plan with a real public health insurance option as soon as you head back to Washington,” says the first of three suggested statements. “It’s critical for controlling skyrocketing costs and guaranteeing security for all of us.”

“Our health care system is broken--costs are skyrocketing and too many people can’t afford coverage,” says the second suggested statement. “President Obama’s health care plan--the public health insurance option--is the key to fixing those problems.”

“We need action now,” says the third suggested statement. “The cost of inaction is too high—every day that we delay, 14,000 Americans lose their insurance and nearly 2,500 file for bankruptcy because of medical costs. And costs continue to spiral out of control: average family premiums will hit $22,000 a year in the next decade.”

The one question MoveOn.org suggests people use is also prefaced with a statement.

“With a real public option, costs will start to go down and millions of individuals, families, and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance,” says the preface to this question. “And no matter what happens to our jobs or our health, a public option will always be there for us. Will you fight to make sure a real public health insurance option is included in health care reform this year?”

The three downloadable signs provided by the MoveOn.org Web site say: “Public Option = Affordable Health Care,” “Prescription: Public Option,” and “83 percent Support the Public Option.”

In his town hall meeting on health care reform on Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H., Obama said “special interests” and their “political allies” are attempting to derail his health care reform agenda.

“But let’s face it, now is the hard part--because the history is clear--every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they’ve got,” Obama said. “They use their influence. They use their political allies to scare and mislead the American people. They start running ads. This is what they always do.

“We can't let them do it again,” Obama said. “Not this time. Not now. Because for all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary--what is truly risky--is if we do nothing. If we let this moment pass-- if we keep the system the way it is right now--we will continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day. Your premiums will continue to skyrocket. They have gone up three times faster than your wages and they will keep on going up.”

Hundreds of protesters were outside of the New Hampshire high school where Obama spoke on Tuesday, but at many other health care town hall meetings being held by Congress members in their home districts over the August recess, angry constituents have expressed their opposition to a government-run health care system.

At an Aug. 11 town hall meeting in Lebanon, Penn., Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) was confronted by constituents who oppose the legislation proposed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, including one man who started his remarks by citing his credentials.
 
“Good morning Senator,” he said. “I’d just like to tell you that I’m here on my on accord. Nobody paid me, O.K.? I’m not part of the Astro Turf group, O.K.? It’s all grassroots. My question for you today is, I agree with the woman over here that has indicated that there has to be some work done to our health care. Unfortunately, it is not this bill. It is not this bill.”

MoveOn.Org did not respond to CNSNews.com’s request for comment on its efforts to encourage people who support a public-option health care system to attend town hall meetings.