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Obama Takes Health Care Reform Message to Western US


U.S. President Barack Obama is taking his message for health care reform to the western United States Friday, amid intensified national debate on the issue.

Mr. Obama is to hold a town hall meeting on the subject Friday in the state of Montana. When asked if the White House expects an angry crowd at the event, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said that there will be people with "questions and concerns."

At town halls across the country, democratic lawmakers have been met with protests and interrupted by angry outbursts and shouts.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton added to the fray Thursday, strongly criticizing Republican tactics to defeat the proposed policies. Speaking at a conference of bloggers in the eastern city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Clinton refuted Republican claims that Mr. Obama's proposals to encourage people to write "living wills" are promoting death.

Republicans say the reforms will be too costly and would amount to a government takeover of healthcare.

Mr. Clinton, who said he has waited 40 years for healthcare reform, urged the liberal and left-wing bloggers - who write informally on the Internet and are often more critical than mainstream media - to work on Mr. Obama's side.

Polls shows public support for Mr. Obama's plan eroding in recent weeks. Mr. Obama, at a town hall meeting in (the northeastern state of) New Hampshire Tuesday, accused some of spreading "wild misrepresentations" of his plan in order to scare the American people.

Mr. Obama says he is trying to control the rapidly rising cost of health care and find a way to provide health insurance coverage to the 46 million Americans who lack it.

He also wants Americans to have the option of buying into a public health insurance plan that competes with plans offered by private companies - a proposal that critics say could put the insurance companies out of business.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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