Expect some vigorous rebuttal to the ‘death panel’ talk when President Obama arrives at a town hall meeting in the small Montana town of Belgrade, near Bozeman, today. Seven hundred people were lined up Friday morning to get tickets, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports this morning.
In an indication that the White House is in full rebuttal mode, an email posted on the White House Web site Thursday quoted David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama, saying that critics of the administration’s health-care proposals were “spreading all sorts of lies and distortions” through “viral e-mails” that were flying around unchecked, according to a report in the Washington Post. Axelrod called for “a chain e-mail of our own” to rebut “these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.”
(The New York Times today does some detective work on on the death panel rumor, tracing it back to some familiar roots – conservative pundits and media outlets. Read more about that here.)
Back in Bozeman, emotions are running high.
“We are huge fans,” said Aimee Kissel, a city clerk who waited all night in line to get a ticket. “I’m a single mom. I’ve struggled with bills forever. I have a great job and great insurance, and I still can’t afford to go to the doctor, with the co-pays and prescription co-pay. I only go to the doctor if I really, really have to.”
Of course, there are buses of anti-reformers descending. Patients First, a national group funded funded by Americans for Prosperity, the anti-tax group that sponsored the tea party protests, is sending in a bus, as is a newly formed group called the Montana Growth Network.
In Grand Junction, Colo., where Obama will hold a town hall on Saturday, the issue is a bit more complex. Sure, the opposition is planning a ginormous opposition rally of thousands of patriotic folks wearing red and blue t-shirts. And yes, the pro-reform folks will be on hand as well, wearing purple t-shirts, the Grand Junction Gazette reports. But Grand Junction happens to be a place that has become a national model of how do health care right – high quality health care at a fraction of its typical cost because of an innovative HMO plan – which InvestigateWest has previously noted, and the LA Times notes today in an interesting story focusing on the creative approaches that could make Grand Junction a national model. No surprise that Obama picked Grand Junction as a stop on the pro-health care reform tour. It’s already happened in this town, where a national study found the most cost-effective delivery of Medicare services in the country. Health care teams follow patients released from the hospital, reducing readmission rates by two-thirds over the national average, and that’s just for starters. No death panels here, just efficient delivery of health care services.