Chicago Town Hall Favors Public Option

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) held a town hall meeting on health care earlier this week. Constituents came forward to tell of the health care issues they have had to endure. Most of the crowd at Jackson's meeting was in favor of a public option when it comes to changing health care.

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CHERYL CORLEY: I'm Cheryl Corley. Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s district is diverse, but predominately African-American and middle-class. At Jackson's health care forum in Chicago this week, he and his constituents offered President Obama some support.

Representative JESSE JACKSON, JR. (Democrat, Illinois): You hang in there. You cover every American.

(Soundbite of applause)

Rep. JACKSON, JR.: You leave no American behind. We have your back.

(Soundbite of cheering)

CORLEY: A few people came forward to tell of the health care problems they've endured. Sharon Hamilton is a breast cancer survivor who fought with her insurance company over mounting bills for her care.

Ms. SHARON HAMILTON: It was one of the scariest times of my life, because I was put in a very stressful situation: concerned about a breast that had become infected, concerned about the fact that my insurance provider would not pay for some of my follow-up care caused me a lot of stress.

CORLEY: A public health nurse, Dorothy Ahmad(ph), said patients often come in with simple ailments that have progressed because they don't have access to medical care. Ahmad says there's already a nationwide public option, and that's Medicare.

Ms. DOROTHY AHMAD (Public Health Nurse): We don't have to have a lot of geniuses to reinvent what we already have. We just need to expand it to everyone so everyone will be in and no one will be out.

CORLEY: Michael Wolf, another audience member, said news reports suggesting the administration may drop the public option were making him nervous.

Mr. MICHAEL WOLF: So, congressman, my question to you is if there's not a viable public option in the final legislation, will you vote for that legislation?

CORLEY: Congressman Jackson said no, and then asked the crowd to stand and applaud if they believe a public option is a necessity for meaningful health care reform. And he got the standing ovation.

(Soundbite of applause)

CORLEY: Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

(Soundbite of music)

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