Health Care Battle Pits Fact vs. Fiction

In Hagerstown, Maryland there were so many, they couldn't all fit inside.

In New Jersey, they had to move to a bigger space to accommodate the unusually large crowd.

Everyone wanted to be heard, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

"No one tells me how to run my life, how long I should live or when I should die!" said one attendee, who was cheered.

Some were furious when they weren't called on.

"I am seriously affected by this," said one crying woman. "I guarantee you I will be one of the ones thrown away."

Frustration was evident among Democrats holding the listening sessions.

"There are people putting out information that's just totally false," said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

To read more:
Who's Behind the Angry Town Halls?
Anger Keeps Coming at Latest Town Halls

But separating fact from fiction isn't always easy in a health care reform bill that's not finished.

In fact four different versions have been approved by Congressional committees. We searched for answers among the three drafts available.

On abortion:

"What is your position on taxpayer-funded abortions which will increase the death of preborn infants by 20 percent?" asked on town hall attendee.

Will the government pay for abortion?

That's unclear. Under one version, abortions would have to be available through at least one insurance plan but Democrats say the abortion would be paid for with the patient's premiums.

On illegal immigrants:

"Illegal aliens will not be in this bill, period, the end," Sen. Cardin replied.

Would millions of illegal immigrants be covered through health care reform?

It's unclear.

The bill does state that only individuals lawfully present in the U.S. can qualify. But Republicans say there's no verification mechanism to ensure that illegal immigrants don't apply. And if one family member is eligible for health care, then every family member might be.

On cost:

"I am not gonna vote for any bill that adds to the national debt," Sen. Cardin said.

Would health care reform pay for itself?

As of now, that's doubtful.

The president says costs will be covered through savings and efficiencies. But the Congressional Budget Office can't quantify those factors and has estimated health care reform would increase the deficit by $239 billion over ten years.

On Congress:

"Are you willing to drop your preferential special healthcare to be stuck with this one?" said one angry town hall attendee.

Would members of Congress participate in the plan?

No. Just 75 Republicans and no Democrats have signed a pledge to participate in any government-run health care plan they pass.

We consulted with a number of political historians today and not one of them could remember an issue that's gotten more people to town hall meetings in modern times.
  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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