Healthcare reform stirs deep emotions at Philly town hall

From the temperature in the room, it could just as well have been a U.K. soccer match. But no, ordinary citizens had come out to an event in which they discussed--or shouted at each other and the speakers--about the future of the U.S. healthcare system.

At present, where things stand on the Hill is that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has approved its version of health reform legislation, a draft which could cover 95 percent of Americans and would introduce the much debated "public option" government-run insurance plan.

Arguments on the Hill are contentious enough. But when they made a recent public appearance, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter got a taste of just how emotional things are for some of the public.

The two came to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to discuss the reform plan this weekend. A standing room only crowd of 400 attended, and apparently, weren't shy about making their voices heard. Sebelius and Specter could barely get a word in edgewise, as arguments broke out among spectators with opposing views--typically between those who feared that government would ration care and those who believe the new plan would extend care to far more citizens.

If the rest of the country is as confused, angry and stirred up as Philadelphia, it's small wonder that reform didn't make President Obama's deadline. This is just one reminder, if we needed one, that this has got to be one of the toughest battles a president has faced in many decades.

To learn more about the town hall meeting:
- read this Philadelphia Inquirer piece