Biden in Chicago to talk health care

August 20, 2009 (CHICAGO) He sat down with doctors, nurses and other health professionals from Mount Sinai Hospital.

The vice president is also delivering more than a billion dollars in grants to help hospitals.

Biden talked health care this morning, taking the White House message of reform not to lawmakers but to health care providers.

President Obama has made health care his top domestic priority.

While Congress works on legislation, many proposals continue to come under intense attack from Republicans and others who say the plan is too costly and invasive.

"This ain't government control, this is not socialist medicine, this isn't ideological or anything else. It's simple: modernize, Biden said.

Biden spoke to about 50 invited guests at the event.

"It would make things better. The patients that we see are definitely in need of health care," pediatrician Dr. Dennis Victors said.

Although it was not open to the public, the White House hopes Thursday's Biden-led roundtable discussion and the announcement of $1.2 billion in Federal stimulus funds to help hospitals take medical records electronic will garner support for the president's reforms.

"It will let doctors and medical providers be healthcare providers once again," U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

Struggling West Side hospital Mt. Sinai was the location of Thursday's announcement, where emergency room trauma nurse Chere Hamilton says just 7 percent of the patients they see are covered by some type of insurance, meaning long wait times and frustration.

"The emergency room now is a very violent place. You have more and more health care workers being injured, and we're constantly threatened and abused," Hamilton said.

As Biden and White House healthcare officials made their pitch, the debate continued among taxpayers divided over the details of the reform plan.

"Medicare costs less than private insurance. So, if you put in the same amount of money, you'll get better healthcare," Rich Siegel said.

"I don't like big government. The bigger the government, the bigger the problems," Ralph Sproviel said.

Because support for a bipartisan health care reform bill remains elusive, some lawmakers say Democrats may have to go it alone.

"We're going to have health care reform. The Senate is going to vote for health care reform. We are going to move forward for the people of America," Illinois Senator Roland Burris said.

Some Democrats say they have no problem backing a one-party push, while GOP officials are warning liberals not to shut them out of the process.

Now, some say, a bipartisan agreement seems even less likely when Congress reconvenes next month.

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