DARTMOUTH – U.S. Rep. Barney Frank took the heat from angry voters last night at a town hall-style meeting on President Obama’s controversial health care overhaul in a clash reminiscent of others that have broken out across the nation.
“Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?” asked Rachel Brown, 28, of Boston, referring to end-of-life counseling sessions, dubbed “death panels,” mentioned in a provision of the House’s health care reform legislation.
“Ma’am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table,” Frank lashed back at Brown as she held a picture of Obama defaced with a Hitler moustache.
Click here to watch video of Barney Frank speaking in Dartmouth last night.
Frank, speaking at the Dartmouth Democratic Town Committee, continued to defend the controversial public insurance option, telling several hundred people who packed the senior center here that the plan would provide competition to private insurance firms and improve their service.
“People fear (the public plan) will be too restrictive. If it is, rational people will not join it,” Frank said.
Last night’s meeting came on the heels of Frank’s interview with the Herald, in which the liberal firebrand criticized the president over his retreat on government-run health insurance – but stopped short calling it a betrayal.
Frank said he opposes the White House’s latest proposal to create a nonprofit health care cooperative rather than a government-run health plan.
Frank last night was asked how the private system would be able to survive with a government-subsidized insurance plan.
“It will survive and prosper,” he said. “A public plan is not about to replace it.”
Violet Perry, 89, of Dartmouth, worried about some 50 million uninsured people suddenly getting health care under Obama’s new plan. “How am I, or anybody else worse than me, going to be able to get timely appointments with a doctor once you add in all these new patients?”
Frank said that, in the short term, the “immigration issue” would have an impact on the health-care system, but he believes in time the nation will increase its supply of medical practitioners.
“I know some of these people don’t have health care . . . fisherman in New Bedford . . . I am not comfortable saying to them, ‘Tough, you don’t have health care and other people do, and I don’t want to make room for you.’ ”
A Newton physician asked Frank why the Obama administration didn’t anticipate the controversy over the so-called “death panels,” which she suggested the insurance industry has trumped up in an “heinous abuse of people’s fragility.”
Frank said misinformation in an economy that has made people more fearful has led to needless concern over the issue.
“This notion that something in this bill would require people who are elderly or sick to be denied medical care or be killed is the single stupidest argument I have ever heard,” Frank said.