KidCare highlights healthcare debate
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08/13/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

A new poll says that the raucous protests at congressional town hall style meetings have succeeded in fueling opposition to proposed health care bills among some Americans, particularly among independents.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,000 adults taken Tuesday, 34% say demonstrations at the hometown sessions have made them more sympathetic to the protesters' views; 21% say they are less sympathetic.

Independents by 2-to-1, 35%-16%, say they are more sympathetic to the protesters now. The meetings have grabbed public attention: 7 in 10 respondents are following the news closely.

White House adviser David Axelrod questioned the USA TODAY survey's methodology, saying those who report being more sympathetic to the protesters now were likely to have been on that side from the start.

A 57% majority of those surveyed, including 6 in 10 independents, say a major factor behind the protests are concerns that average citizens had well before the meetings took place; 48% say efforts by activists to create organized opposition to the health care bills are a major factor. But some actions are seen as going too far. Six in 10 say shouting down supporters of a bill is an abuse of democracy.

Meanwhile, a new report from the advocacy group Families USA says that through this decade, health care premiums rose 3 ½ times faster than earnings for Florida workers. It also shows that premiums rose 98% in the past nine years, while earning rose by only 26%.

Miami area Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek says that the demonstrative town hall meetings that have dominated news coverage over the past week and a half makes for good cable footage, but said just saying no to health care reform is not acceptable.

Recently Florida Governor Charlie Crist wrote an op-ed extolling the virtues of how the Cover Florida Health Care program makes universal care available in the state. But Kendrik Meek, who may face Crist in a race for the U.S. Senate next year, took a shot at the Governor and the GOP led legislature that passed the bill last year.

In Tallahassee on Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottcamp and an assortment of state agency leaders hosted a news conference to celebrate the fact that nearly 50,000 new families have enrolled in Florida KidCare to receive low cost health care for their families.

South Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said it was hypocritical for Republican leaders to honor the program, since they are blasting federal government involvment in health insurance, and yet KidCare is financed with a combination of federal and state funds and family contributions.

And Wasserman Shultz said the Republicans leading state government have been guilty of making it harder for families to join KidCare.

Congressman Meek also took shots at Tallahassee legislators for blocking access for KidCare. And both Democrats said they strongly support a public option bill. That comes after former Clinton advisor Paul Begala wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post today that fellow progressives should not to make a government insurance option a litmus test for health-care reform.

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