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The Turbulent Tides of Health Care Change

Would it be hyperbolic to say that Americans grappling with the health care change proposals are more tightly engaged with this issue than with any other domestic issue in the last 50 years? The emotions that charge town hall meetings, radio programs, newspaper editorials, blogs and kitchen table conversations seem stronger and more universal now than they were even during Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society makeover.

Protesters rallied for and against health care reform in Hillcrest in San Diego on August 11, 2009.
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Above: Protesters rallied for and against health care reform in Hillcrest in San Diego on August 11, 2009.

Health care reform supporters and detractors stand outside a town hall-style meeting attended by U.S. President Barack Obama in a hangar at Gallatin Field Airport on August 14, 2009 in Belgrade, Montana.
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Above: Health care reform supporters and detractors stand outside a town hall-style meeting attended by U.S. President Barack Obama in a hangar at Gallatin Field Airport on August 14, 2009 in Belgrade, Montana.

Audio

Aired 8/19/09

There's been an angry reaction to health care reform at some Town Hall meetings this month. KPBS political correspondent Gloria Penner explores the recent history of public outrage in politics and what forces could be fueling this health care backlash.

That’s when we wrestled with civil rights, racial integration, crime and lawlessness, riots on campus and in the streets, women’s liberation, the war on poverty and the whole sense that America was changing too fast. But the events of 2009 are more personally intense than the changes of the 60s.

Why has the health care overhaul become such a flashpoint for so many? Perhaps we are just too vulnerable these days. Often, people become disturbed, disrupted and confused when they’ve lost economic security and feel that they are out of touch with the new culture and their place in it. Certainly, the joblessness of this recession, the invasion of the social media into our personal lives, plus the election of our first African American president have set the stage for much of the disorientation and powerlessness experienced by large segments of our population -- especially poor, white, working-class, militia-oriented people.

Some believe that resistance to health care change grew powerfully because the change laid out by President Obama early in his candidacy was too dramatic. After his election, he followed the classic role of a leader in a democracy in that he set out a goal and left it up to the people and their elected representatives to figure out the pathways to that goal to provide affordable health coverage and quality care to all Americans.

When he began his health care initiative this year, Mr. Obama set an early deadline and waited for the percolation to begin. The reaction began with a severely divided Congress and quickly spread to the entire nation with all sides mobilizing for an issue that touches everyone, and perhaps is moving too fast for comfort. Indeed, for many, America once again is changing too quickly. Lies, misconceptions, and exaggerations riddle the dialogue. The noise is getting louder and the struggle more fervent in these days before Congress returns to Washington to work on multiple health bills. That work and its results will tell us if the democratic ideal works in this case. We’ll see whether the people’s will is clear enough to set their representatives on a well-defined path toward the goal embraced by their president.

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Avatar for user 'rsauerheber'

rsauerheber | August 25, 2009 at 12:20 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

The most egregious violation of public rights in our history, according to a Nobel Prize scientist and I agree, is the injection of fluosilicic acid into public water supplies of most U.S. cities (except San Diego). This procedure, designed to decrease children's cavities (but found in our 4 largest studies it doesn't do so (Yiamouyiannis, Fluoride the Aging Factor, 1993; NRC, 2006) is enforced by the government's Oral Health Division of the CDC. The people of San Diego voted on multiple occasions against fluoridating our water supplies, but Mayor Sanders accepted 5 million dollars from a dental consortium to begin the procedure in May, 2010. The National Research Council 2006 Report proved that drinking 1 ppm fluoridate water for only 2 years accumulates fluoride in bones to 2,500 ppm and the effect is irreversible and increases for the life of the consumer. We now have an epidemic of hip fractures in the elderly in the U.S., many who perish from pneumonia while waiting for bone to heal. Fluoride weakens bone and delays healing (NRC). The CDC published that the costs for convelescence for hip fracutres alone is 12 billion annually, while the OHD at CDC ignores the notion that water fluoride is contibutory. Some people have levels as high as 12,000 ppm fluoride in bone who live in fluoridated cities (NRC). Senator Feinstein's San Diego office agreed with me that the billions spent for this could be given to agencies such as County Medical Services who treat the uninsured now, without need to pass additional legislation. But Mayor Sanders continues his quest to place CA AB733 fluoride law above Federal drug laws that forbid drugging anyone without consent or to use any cancer-causing chemical as a drug. Yiamouyiannis's work proved long ago that fluoridated cities have higher per capita cancer deaths than nonfluoridated. This has been proven in court in 3 separate cases and yet fluoride is not banned. The FDA has never approved of fluorides for ingestion, being an insecticide and rodent poison comparable in toxicity to arsenic in acute treated animals (Merck Index), but has never banned it either. San Diego has enoyed having normal fresh water for its entire history. Why must this be changed in May (Signonsandiego)? The citizens need to have their voice heard and I urge KPBS to get involved and help spread the truth and to read 7 textbooks against this, summarized at www.fluoridealert.org. Our Wild Animal park, fluoridated and aluminum treated for 4 years, had its elephant shows canceled, zebras segrated, and sheep with hoof and skin issues and other effects. We must protect the zoo even if people can't seem to become concerned.
Richard Sauerheber, Ph.D., Chemistry, UCSD, currently Palomar College, San Marcos

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