Local Politics

Health care reform bill fuels debate in Raleigh

Posted March 15, 2010 6:10 p.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2010 8:15 a.m. EDT

— With the House of Representatives expected to vote on a health care reform bill in the coming days, both sides of the controversial issue held news conferences in Raleigh on Monday.

Tracy Walsh, a mother of five from North Augusta, S.C., is featured in a television advertisement speaking out against the President Barack Obama’s health care bill. Walsh believes the bill is an attempt by the government to take over health care.

“It’s not based on what’s best for the patient. It’s not based on what saves lives. It’s based on the lowest cost,” she said at a press conference at the North Carolina Civitas Institute on Monday.

Walsh, 44, a breast cancer survivor, said she fears Obama’s plan will limit access, provide fewer choices and lower the quality of care.

Supporters of the bill say it will lower costs.

“There’s a lot in this bill that does that without raising the bugaboo the opponents are quick to raise,” Rep. David Price, (D-NC), said at a separate news conference Monday.

Price said the plan does not include a government-run public option.

Although Price said he hasn’t seen Walsh's ad, he has heard a lot about it.

“For someone to run an ad suggesting health reform is somehow about restricting…this is just about as low as it gets,” Price said.

Obama asked Congress more than a year ago to approve legislation that extends health coverage to tens of millions who lack it, curb industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions, and begin to slow the growth of health care nationally.

Now, lawmakers have embarked on a two-step approach that begins with the House approving the Senate-passed measure, despite misgivings on key provisions. That would be followed by both houses quickly passing a second bill that makes numerous changes to the first.

The House Budget Committee took the first step Monday, voting 21-16 for fast-track rules. Two Democrats broke with the largely party-line vote - Allen Boyd of Florida and Chet Edwards of Texas. Both voted against the health care bill last year.

In the Senate, that second bill would come to a vote under rules that deny Republicans the ability to filibuster.