Local Politics

Burr: Heated health care debate part of process

Posted August 11, 2009 6:51 p.m. EDT

— The public outcry over President Barack Obama's efforts to reform the nation's health care system is "the worst I've sever seen," U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said Tuesday.

The contentious debate has pushed the sluggish economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other issues to the side, Burr said, because health care "is personal. It impacts every American."

Burr said he doesn't support the Obama plan because he doesn't believe it provides enough for wellness, prevention and chronic diseases. He said the price tag for the reform also is too high.

"It's ludicrous to talk about how much new money we can put in instead of funneling money to bring down costs short, medium and long term," Burr said.

During Congress' summer recess, many members of the House and Senate have gone home to discuss the issue with their constituents. Some of the meetings have turned into shouting and shoving matches, and 13th District Congressman Brad Miller received a death threat.

Burr said he has no plans to hold his own town hall meeting on health care, but he said he understands what's driving the emotions seen at some meetings across the country.

"I think it's truly the passion of the people crying out, with their belief that this would be very detrimental to their long-term health care benefits," he said. "If you do the wrong thing on health care, our children will spend a lifetime trying to turn around and fix that mistake, and the health care doors that lock may never reopen if we do the wrong thing."

Even though the meetings have been heated, Burr said he thinks such widespread debate might lead to a bipartisan reform plan that Congress will pass.

"The country is reacting exactly like the founding fathers hoped it would with an issue of great importance – that the American people would engage and ultimately decide the outcome of legislation," he said.