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Health care forum tones down fireworks
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/17/2009 12:01 AM

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A public discussion about the nation's health care system staged in Lincolnshire Wednesday night was hardly the type of rancorous, bare-knuckled throw-down that's enthralled the media and political pundits in recent weeks.

In fact, the presentation, led by a pair of representatives from a nonpartisan Washington, D.C., group called the Concord Coalition, resembled a college economics lecture more than one of those brawls.

Instead of protesters waving signs of President Obama wearing a Hitler-style mustache, attendees were treated to a computerized slide show of financial charts. Instead of yelling and screaming, the crowd sat politely in their chairs as the presenters talked about the U.S. economy, the nation's deficit, tax policy and the financial impact of health care.

About 100 people packed the auditorium at the United Auto Workers Hall for the event, which was sponsored by a political group called the Tenth Congressional District Democrats and WCPT radio.

Diane Lim Rogers, chief economist with the Concord Coalition, and Sara Imhof, the group's Midwest regional director, led the talk.

They fielded questions from the audience, including one about whether health care reform could spur economic growth.

The answer wasn't clear.

"One problem with economics is that economists don't really know how to put dollar values on everything people care about," Rogers said.

Someone else asked why the government can't simply reduce military spending and use that money on health care. Rogers said cutting defense spending doesn't have widespread support among Americans, a comment that drew some mumbles in the crowd.

Rogers and Imhof later were joined on stage by Dr. Quentin Young, a physician who favors a single-payer health care system, and David Dranove, a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

The gathering was one of three health-care forums in the Northwest suburbs Wednesday night.

Others were held in Arlington Heights and Elk Grove Village.