Public Remains Confused About Health Plan

Obama at supermarket
President Barack Obama listens to a question during a town hall meeting on health care in a Kroger supermarket in Bristol, Va., Wednesday, July 29, 2009.
AP Photo/Steve Helber

President Barack Obama is spending much of his time, and major political capital, explaining health reform over and over.

Yet multiple polls show the public is confused. Many don't get what's in it for them - even those who came to hear the president speak this week.

"Have you been paying attention to the health care debate?" asked CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier.

"I've been picking up bits and pieces here and there," said North Carolina resident Nate Harris. "But 1,000 pages I think is a lot for anyone to go through."

That's 1,000 pages for just one of the three different versions of the House bill. There's also a Senate version out there.

The House has left for its break, while senators are working nonstop through their last week. Senator Kent Conrad even brought his dog to work. But he admits it is a hard to sell the public on a deal that isn't done yet.

"You have not seen a bi-partisan package yet be presented to the American people, and when it is then we have to do a massive job of education," Conrad said.

But it will be autumn before both houses of Congress return to work on that hoped for combined package. In the meantime, health reform opponents are capitalizing on the confusion with television ads.

GOP opponents have warned senior citizens that Medicare will be slashed.

"There will be rationing of health care and many people won't be able to get a hip replacement," said Rep. Dan Burton.

In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent representatives back home with tools to counterattack - a point-by-point memo to educate voters on the bill's goals, though again, there are few specifics.

Among the points: no discrimination for preexisting conditions, no dropping your coverage because you become sick.

"We intend to set the record straight," Pelosi said in a news conference. "In some places by inoculating against their misrepresentations in all places by educating as to what this legislation does."

The president today praised House's progress thus far, including the way the various committees made changes because of Republican or conservative Democrat criticism. Democrats may have missed the president's August deadline, but they plan to use that as an advantage, telling the public, look, we took our time looking out for you.