Public debate over health care reform is healthy but should be civil, Gov. Mike Beebe said today.
The subject came up while Beebe was fielding calls on his monthly radio program, “Ask the Governor,” on the Arkansas Radio Network. A caller asked if Arkansas would be able to “push back” if a reform bill ultimately passed by Congress contains unfunded mandates for the states.
“I read or saw where both Congressman (Vic) Snyder and Congressman (Mike) Ross got some push-back the other day,” Beebe said, referring to a public forum Wednesday at Arkansas Children’s Hospital during which audience members heckled and jeered at the two Democratic congressmen.
On Thursday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln criticized the rowdiness of audience members at recent public meetings on health care. Lincoln told reporters Thursday that efforts to disrupt public forums are “un-American,” though she later said she should not have used the term.
“I think the debate on this is healthy, as long as it’s a civil debate,” Beebe said today. “I think people are scared, I think people are unsure, I think people are uncertain. Part of the whole democratic process is to voice those concerns to your elected representatives, and I think that is going on and I think it should go on. Again, I hope it goes on in a civil and constructive fashion.”
Beebe told the caller Arkansas would have to comply with any federal mandates, but he added, “We need to slow down a second here, because first of all, I don’t think anything that they’re talking about right now is necessarily what you’re going to see come out of Congress, based upon what I keep hearing.”
Beebe said there is “a whole lot of information out there that’s scaring the heck out of a lot of people,” including rumors that seniors’ health care will be cut off or rationed.
“It’s not going to happen, in my opinion, and if it does I will be one of the most shocked people around. I just cannot see that occurring,” he said.