The shrill terms of the debate, such as so-called "death panels," as well as a fear by those who are currently insured about whether their coverage would suffer have distressed the country, Nelson told CNN Radio.
"America has been traumatized by the debate because of the labeling of certain parts -- like the hospice panel -- as the 'death panel,'" Nelson said.
"The concern is what happens to the 200 million Americans who have coverage on the private side right now," Nelson added. "They're worried that they're going to lose something for somebody else to win something."
Nelson said that his own town halls have been rather civil, but that the raucous confrontations taking place at some of his colleagues' meetings would play out once they return to Washington in September.
He argued it was "premature" to say whether or not the bill would be able to pass, but anticipated a higher-level discussion of healthcare next month.
"I think it'll be a better debate when we get back to Washington," Nelson said. "I also think it will be a time to put to use what we've heard back home."