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State House panel OKs challenge to health reform law

Posted January 26, 2011
Updated January 27, 2011

— Newly installed Republicans leaders in the General Assembly quickly forged ahead with their agenda on Thursday, pushing legislation through a committee to weaken the year-old federal health care reform law.

About 24 hours after the 2011 legislative session began, the House Judiciary Committee voted 23-16 to approve House Bill 2, which would block a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring Americans to buy insurance beginning in 2014 or face a monetary penalty.

The bill, which could before the full House as early as next week, also would require Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper to defend the law in court if it is enacted. Cooper has refused to join litigation by other states to challenge the law's constitutionality.

Democrats pleaded during two hours of vigorous debate for more time to examine the bill and allow members of the public to comment on it. Several committee members questioned spending money on a lawsuit when the state faces a projected $3.7 billion deficit.

"We all know the end game here. So, if it takes an extra week or two to get the bill passed the way that you all want it passed and for Roy Cooper to send an e-mail (to join the multi-state lawsuit), what is the difference?" said Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake.

Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, said Congress didn't waste time last year in voting to approve health reform, so there's no reason for the House to wait now for more background on the bill. Also, he said, the legislation sends a message that North Carolina won't be pushed around by the federal government.

NC General Assembly 4x3 GOP flexes muscle in health reform debate

"If (health reform) is upheld in the end and the federal government can mandate North Carolinians to buy a certain product, what can't the federal government do, and do we no longer have limited government? Blust said.

Challenging the health care law was one of 10 items GOP legislative candidates put on their list of campaign promises last fall.

Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said the majority of North Carolina residents dislike the individual mandate, and it was up to lawmakers to exempt them from it.

"We are aware of what the business of the people needs to be, and we have made it clear that we are going to get that business done," Moore said. "If something is not done about this overly intrusive federal legislation, it's going to cost us more money than we can ever imagine."

Paul Stam in House debate Web only: House panel debates challenge to health reform law

Still, Democrats argued that North Carolina doesn't need to get involved in the lawsuit over the health law since the state ultimately will have to abide by a court's decision whether the law is constitutional or not. They also said challenging the so-called "individual mandate" requiring health coverage could undo many aspects of the law that constituents like, such as allowing young adults to remain on their parents' policies, covering more drug expenses for seniors and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for a pre-existing medical problem.

"I cannot believe that we are opening this session, in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, (and) we are talking about this issue rather than about how to put our people back to work and move our state forward," said Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake.

House Majority Leader Paul Stam, one of the bill's sponsors, refuted every argument against the legislation. It won't cost the state anything, he said, and the individual mandate isn't similar to requirements that drivers have automobile insurance or that seniors enroll in Medicare.

"(Medicare is required) only if you work," said Stam, R-Wake. "(The individual mandate) is required if you breathe."

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  • MakoII Jan 28, 2011

    whatusay,

    Yeah, and if I didn't have my manhood I'd be a woman. But the FACT is, Reagan spent more than any President before him in debt, and grew the size of government, NOT made it smaller.

    When YOU can show ME how the President, Reagan, with HIS Veto Pen made government smaller, then quote that he "believed in smaller government" all day.

    Fact is, he ACTED on LARGER GOVERNMENT whatever his beliefs are. The buck stops with the Presidency.

  • Bendal1 Jan 28, 2011

    woodrowboyd,

    Your anecdotal experience at the ER flies in the face of what's happening in reality. If you don't have health insurance, you've got two choices; go to work sick or go to the ER. Who pays when someone too poor to afford a doctor's visit or health insurance goes to the ER? You, me and everyone else does, that's who. I know a woman who isn't an illegal, works 60+ hours a week, and when she was pregnant she had to go to a free clinic (taxpayer supported) for her checkups. Her delivery was at Wake Med; guess who paid for it? That's right, you, me and everyone else in this state. It's not just the "illegals" that use the ER, it's the working poor as well.

  • Bendal1 Jan 28, 2011

    State law can't trump Federal law. All these newly-elected politicians are doing will amount to nothing but wasting our money and time. The only reason they're doing this is because the rabid, racist, anti-government whackos that elected these people demand this kind of action, and the politicians are too stupid (or too afraid) to say "uhhh, we can't nullify a Federal law with state legislation". This is just political theater while they need to be spending time balancing the budget and trying to get more jobs into this state.

  • clayt85 Jan 28, 2011

    It is hilarious that the words "fiscal responsibility" and "Reagan" appear in the same sentence. Lets check our facts people. @whatusay would do well to find an actual history textbook, where he would learn how G.H.W. Bush's tax *hike* (which ultimately cost him the election) is what paved the way for the prosperity of the 90s.

    "If (health reform) is upheld in the end and the federal government can mandate North Carolinians to buy a certain product, what can't the federal government do?" Apparently, it still cannot educate people, as they continue to maintain that health care reform kills jobs, etc, etc. Its called the CBO people. Google it.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 28, 2011

    "Ronald Reagan's record of fiscal responsibility continues to stand as the most successful economic policy of the 20th century."

    Yet, he himself claimed raising the debt from 997 billion to 2.85 trillion was his "greatest disappointment". Increasing spending while cutting taxes is fiscally IRRESPONSIBLE. We went from being the wolrd's largest creditor nation to its largest debtor.

    "If Reagan's critics had been willing to work with him to limit domestic spending even further and to control the growth of entitlements"

    Would of, should of, could of. It's a matter of what you want to blame the debt on. You also assume without any shred of evidence or logic, that cutting revenue had anything to do with Reagan's run up of the debt. Also that Reagan didn't propose and get massive increases in spending, especially in Defense. He vetoed nothing. His party also controlled the Senate most of his term.

  • whatusay Jan 28, 2011

    MakoII....."No matter how advocates of big government try to rewrite history, Ronald Reagan's record of fiscal responsibility continues to stand as the most successful economic policy of the 20th century. His tax reforms triggered an economic expansion that continues to this day. His investments in national security ended the Cold War and made possible the subsequent defense spending reductions that are largely responsible for the current federal surpluses. His efforts to restrain the expansion of federal government helped to limit the growth of domestic spending.

    If Reagan's critics had been willing to work with him to limit domestic spending even further and to control the growth of entitlements, the budget would have been balanced five to ten years sooner and without the massive tax increase imposed in 1993. Today, Members of Congress from across the political spectrum should stand on the evidence and defend the Reagan record."

    In short, the Democrats kept spending having lied abo

  • MakoII Jan 28, 2011

    "I said Reagan believed in less government," -whatusay

    Reagan might have "believed" in it, but made government larger nontheless.

    How come every GOP President "believes" this and does the opposite?

    The ONLY 2 Presidents to make the government smaller in the past 80 years was Kennedy and Clinton.

    Certainly not Reagan, nor any other GOP President.

  • whatusay Jan 27, 2011

    almagayle50, you don't have to buy car ins if you don't want to drive. You can also buy a surety bond and be exempted from car insurance. My grandmother never had a drivers licence, never drove a car. What's your point??

  • blackdog Jan 27, 2011

    They could be just as productive by flying kites outside in the rain.

  • almagayle50 Jan 27, 2011

    If it's unconstitutional for the federal government to require us to buy health insurance, is it unconstitutioal for NC to require us to buy car insurance?

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