Debate over public option heats up in town halls

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In Orlando last night, lines started early for a health care town hall.

“The health insurance industry is ripping off Americans right, left and down the middle,” said one activist.

By dark, police kept overflow crowds in check. Ten times as many people showed up as could fit inside.

“I’m not gonna sit here and let them block me out of a meeting when he’s got his handpicked union people. He’s my congressman and I’m entitled to talk to him,” said one town hall attendee.

Inside, Democrat Alan Grayson fielded calm questions.

The main friction point now is the fate of a public insurance option and the President’s suggestion it might be dropped.

Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean is leading the liberal backlash.

“If the public option is socialized medicine we’ve had socialized medicine for 45 yrs, it’s called Medicare and most people really like it…it’s called Veterans Affairs benefits, most really people like it,” said Dean.

The comparison to VA care came as President Obama promised veterans better.

“Cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner. I know, you’ve heard this for years but with the leadership and resources we’re providing, this time, means that we’re gonna be able to do it,” said Obama.

Republicans are looking to seize on Democrats’ internal squabbles over health care.

House Republican leader John Boehner sent an open letter to drug makers’ big lobby, Pharma.

Boehner warned Pharma its cooperation with the White House on reform is like cutting a deal with a bully.

Drug makers have pledged eighty billion dollars to the overhaul, and nearly twice that in advertising to get a reform measure passed.