A House Republican closely involved with the health bill negotiations said on Wednesday that vocal protests at health reform town hall meetings are "good for the Republicans."

"I don't mind people being emotional. I don't mind 'em reading the bill. I think that's good for the Republicans. This debate is healthy," said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) in a local radio interview.

Shimkus, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, appeared on WLS 890 AM in Chicago.

Energy and Commerce passed their version of the health bill just before August recess as a result of a compromise brokered between House leadership and centrist Blue Dog Democrats on the committee.

The seventh-term Republican offered sharp criticism of the legislation, saying it would provide funding for abortions and would insure illegal immigrants.

Shimkus admitted that he had not read every page of the bill but was very familiar with its provisions.

"Have I read every single word? No. Do I know the bill pretty good? Yes," he said. "Law is very difficult to read, that's why you have lawyers."