Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina's freshman Democratic senator said Monday that although she voted last week on a U.S. Senate proposal for universal health care, there's no guarantee she will vote for the proposal in the fall.
"One of the most critical issues for me is to be sure that this is covered, that it will not put a debt burden on our country. We can't have these deficits going on," Sen. Kay Hagan said Monday.
Hagan, and her Republican counterpart Sen. Richard Burr, both sit on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, which earlier this month passed a version of Obama's proposal that would extend affordable health care coverage to most of the 50 million uninsured Americans.
The $1 trillion-plus plan would provide a government insurance program to compete with private insurers, and insurance companies would be barred from excluding people with pre-existing conditions.
The current House bill would rely heavily on taxing the wealthiest Americans. How the plan would be paid for under the Senate plan has yet to be settled.
Hagan said hasn't fully seen what the House is proposing and that she's still looking at all the options.
Burr voted against the committee's passage of the bill, saying that although he wants affordable health care for all Americans, the current proposal penalizes Americans and medical care they prefer because it would limit their choices.
He believes there should be a broad choice of health insurance plans and that Americans should control their own insurance.
"We're encouraging our activists to call Sen. Hagan and tell her that she is right to question a public plan," Dallas Woodhouse, president of the North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
The conservative activist group has already sponsored several rallies speaking out against the president's plan. It plans to reach out to Hagan with a familiar message, Woodhouse said.
"We take inspiration from President Obama: 'Can we fix health care without massive new taxes and with the free market? Yes we can,'" he said.
"If you think it's worth doing, you've got to be willing to pay for it," said Rep. Both Etheridge, D-N.C, who supports the House plan.
Obama, who has been traveling the nation in recent weeks to win support for his plan, is expected to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday at Broughton High School in Raleigh. The live event, which starts at 11:45 a.m., will be shown in its entirety on WRAL-TV and WRAL.com.
According to the Center for American Progress, an estimated 1.8 million of North Carolinians – 21 percent of the population – are without health care. For those who have coverage, health insurance premiums have increased 75 percent from 2000 to 2007.