New twist in fight over health care

January 31, 2011 8:20:22 PM PST
There is a new twist in the fight over the federal health care law at the state legislative building.Advocates who want to slow down North Carolina Republicans' efforts to gut the federal health care bill joined forces on Monday.

Many health care advocates say their voices are being snuffed out of the debate over whether North Carolina should challenge the federal health care law.

"I think there's a lot of misinformation out there that we haven't had a chance to refute yet," Democratic Representative Verla Insko said.

Insko is among those who think her side didn't get a fair shake in Republicans' efforts to undermine the federal health care bill.

On Thursday, the first full day of the legislative session, the bill passed in a 2 to 13 vote.

Because of an overwhelming Republican majority, HR 2 passed through the judiciary committee after about an hour and a half of debate. Critics on the left said they were furious.

"There's no reason to do this except ram something through before people really had a chance to look at it," said Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch.

Because Republicans didn't solicit or allow any public comment, Insko got a group of advocates to highlight the reasons why they think the state shouldn't interfere with the federal law.

"I lost my insurance when I had to drop out of school because of the cancer, and I would be someone who would have no insurance," said Menaly Taylor, who's fighting a brain tumor.

And an UNC doctor argues that health care costs are as high as they are largely because so many people are uninsured.

"One-third of the people in the hospitals in North Carolina are there because they don't have insurance," Dr. Charlie Van Der Holt said.

Insko says by taking out the requirement that everyone has insurance, the state would gut the rest of the federal bill.

"It would eviscerate it completely, because you could then not afford all the benefits people want ... would be removed," Insko said.

Republicans counter all the points, but House Majority Leader Paul Stam says none are new. He says the debate has already happened, just not formally at the legislature.

"This has been debated for a year in North Carolina at kitchen tables and town halls and on the campaign trail and we're doing nothing other than what we said we would do," Stam said.

Representative Insko did acknowledge that advocates and Democrats haven't been out front on the issue and says they would be in the future, but time is short. Republicans are pushing for a second reading of the bill Tuesday and a third reading and possible vote on Wednesday.

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