Local Politics

NC GOP lawmakers want to send message on health reform

Posted January 4, 2011 4:32 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2011 6:32 p.m. EST

— Aside from erasing a projected $3.7 billion deficit, targeting the federal health care reform law has become the top priority for the new Republican majority in the General Assembly.

Incoming House Speaker Thom Tillis said Tuesday that he expects quick passage of a resolution opposing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has been taking effect slowly since President Barack Obama signed the law last March.

"What is before us is a fiscally irresponsible, unsustainable plan," said Tillis, R-Mecklenburg.

State lawmakers can't legally stop the law from affecting North Carolina residents, but GOP lawmakers want the state's congressional delegation to get the hint that they need to back a Republican effort in the U.S. House to repeal the act.

"The duly elected representatives of an entire state have passed – a majority has passed – a bill opposing what the federal government is attempting to do in our state. I think it sends a very loud and clear message," Tillis said.

Reform advocates argue that it would be the wrong message.

"Politically, it's harmful," said Adam Searing, who leads the North Carolina Health Access Coalition.

Searing said it's time for states to stop fighting a national health care program.

"If you want to have the good benefits of reform like banning insurance companies for charging people more for pre-existing conditions, you have to require that people buy coverage," he said.

Gov. Beverly Perdue remains concerned about the potential costs to North Carolina from the federal health care reform effort, but it isn't one of her top priorities right now, according to her spokeswoman, Chrissy Pearson. She said it's too early to say how the governor would handle a legislative resolution opposing the federal law.