Local Politics

Health care debate filled with sound, fury

Posted August 7, 2009
Updated August 10, 2009

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— With members of Congress home for the summer recess, the volume of the debate over health care reform has been turned up.

Hundreds of protesters lined St. Mary's Street Friday afternoon outside the Raleigh office of 13th District Congressman Brad Miller to express opposition to the health care reform proposal working its way through Congress.

The event organized by a group called Triangle Conservatives was peaceful, unlike raucous crowds that have gathered for town hall meetings in several states. Supporters and opponents at many of these events have shoved and shouted at each other and yelled at public officials.

Sky 5 coverage of health reform protest Sky 5 coverage of health reform protest

"It does distract, in a very serious way, from the desire of ordinary Americans to understand what's really being proposed by Congress," Miller said.

Much of the debate centers on the so-called public option, which would create a government-sponsored health insurance plan for people who cannot obtain other coverage. President Barack Obama backs the plan as a way to guarantee that every American has health insurance, but opponents say a government-run plan would increase bureaucracy and raise the costs of private insurers.

Protester Rick Smith, who is against the government-sponsored plan, did not leave happy.

“I left more frustrated than when I came and my expectations weren’t high,” Smith said.

Peter Wilz went to the protest to support the plan.

“These are folks, I think, that probably voted for the other side and they’re unhappy about that and about losing in November,” Wilz said.

Miller said the debate has created a "paranoid fringe" element, noting one person who called his office about the issue threatened the Democrat's life.

He said he doesn't find town hall meetings to be productive forums – he hasn't held one in two years – so he has declined numerous requests from North Carolina residents to have a public forum on the health care reform proposal working its way through Congress. Instead, he said, he plans to meet with small groups of people on both sides of the issue to discuss the proposal.

"The kind of tactics we've seen over the last month are distracting us from what the debate really ought to be about. It ought to be about (people)," he said. "It is not about government providing health insurance. It's about government regulating health insurance –  setting rules, providing oversight (and) being a watchdog."

Capitol Police are investigating the death threat, and Miller said it won't deter him from his scheduled public activities. On Friday, he met with cancer survivors and family members, some of whom told him they have to pay $1,700 a month in health insurance premiums.

"Even if I wanted to squeeze every last penny out of my children's present and future, have my home foreclosed upon (and) move into a one-bedroom apartment, I still couldn't afford health insurance," Lydia Tolar, a single mother from Cary who is fighting breast cancer, told Miller.

Although the debate bridges political party lines, Tom Fetzer, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, denounced the death threat against Miller, saying it detracts from an important and necessary national debate.

"I would like to encourage all Americans to get out and to a town hall meeting. I'd like to encourage all elected officials to hold town hall meetings, but we have to behave as Americans behave and comport ourselves in compliance with our standards of civil discourse and proper behavior," Fetzer said. "It should be polite. It should be civil. It should be thoughtful, It can be intense."

Miller met Friday afternoon with several members of Triangle Conservatives during the protest.

First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield said he would hold a two-hour forum on health care reform at 6 p.m. Tuesday at J.W. Parker Middle School in Rocky Mount. It's unclear whether other members of North Carolina's congressional delegation plan to hold such meetings.


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  • Mobile Geek Aug 7, 2009

    "Something has to be done to control these insurance companies."

    Again, we have the howling ninnies saying "something has to be done" without a clue what needs to be done. Just like the TARP, they are willing to buy into whatever diarrhea comes out of Congress, without any consideration or care what the problems are, or if what Congress comes up with will make things worse.

    It's always the free market, or the corporations, life isn't fair. Boo hoo. So few ever want to take responsibility themselves. That's why so many weak minded individuals need their government to hold their hands through life coz they have no backbone, are too ignorant, and/or are too stupid do take care of themselves. How pathetic. I can only imagine for those individuals, that if government wasn't around to pander to their miserable lives, they would simply role over and die.

  • carolinamom5 Aug 7, 2009

    cowens, I'm sure you've never spelled anything wrong in your life. The quote is from the Hastings Center Report, Nov-Dec 1996. It is also interesting to note that in the Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008, Emanuel states that doctors take the Hippocratic oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of costs or effects on others...". I have access to these sources because I teach at a university and can research through their databases. No, they are NOT from Rush or Beck.

  • whatusay Aug 7, 2009

    The Socialist Party does not get it....Americans do not want government run health care.

  • bluecharger Aug 7, 2009

    "It is not about government providing health insurance. It's about government regulating health insurance – setting rules, providing oversight (and) being a watchdog.".....that's a blatant lie right there.....or "The Plan" is changing faster than they can print new editions......and they wanted to vote on this before this recess??

  • cowens1 Aug 7, 2009

    "We were FORCED to go on Medicare!"

    who forced you?

  • cowens1 Aug 7, 2009

    ""ordinary" people"

    lol....yeah ordinary people threaten others.

  • cowens1 Aug 7, 2009

    ""Medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those who are irreversably prevented from being or becoming participating citizens"."

    Funny that your quote has a misspelling. Can you provide a link to the quote or did you hear it from Rush or Beck?

  • weasleyes Aug 7, 2009

    One earlier poster equated Medicare patients who do not support this bill to people who drive and do not support roads. Sorry, but that won't wash! A lot of us had great private insurance and would like to have remained there. We were FORCED to go on Medicare!

  • carolinafan Aug 7, 2009

    affirmativediversity: okay WRAL,

    You gave us some coverage with the one meeting were DEMOCRAT Miller managed to scare up his token family that says they pay $1,700.00 a month for insurance...

    Any plans to cover Miller's meeting with the I DON'T WANT OBAMACARE folks? How'd that go?

    So, AFFIRMATIVEDIVERISTY you do not believe these people pay $1,700 a month for insurance because one of them has cancer. I believe it because our insurance through BCBS is $1,100 a month and we do not have any health problems. No one in our family takes any kind of medicine but we are penalized for what. Our insurance was around $860 a month last year, but this year it went up to $1,100 a month. Something has to be done to control these insurance companies. Do you know that BCBS charged the state $10 to process every claim submitted by state workers last year? Did you also know that medicare (government run successfully) charged .57 cents to process their claims? Someone is making a huge profit!!!

  • livinggood2 Aug 7, 2009

    Da,I guess us farm raise corn raisers are not to bright,but guess we are the ones who will end up paying the bill.Put that in your liberal ways cowen1