Local News

Health care reform advocates, opponents rally in Raleigh

Posted July 21, 2009 10:32 p.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2009 8:11 a.m. EDT

— President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he wants to sign health care legislation that ensures choice of doctors and plans, improves quality and reduces costs. It is an issue that is dividing people in Wake County, and across the country.

North Carolina's Organizing for America (OFA) is in support of Obama's health care plan. They held a phone bank Tuesday evening at St. Matthew AME Church at 1629 Bennett St. in Raleigh.

Volunteers called on other Wake County residents to support the plan before Congress.

“Many of the people across the country don't have health care insurance, and it is an issue that I think everyone needs to be involved with,” Organizing for America volunteer Eric Holmes said.

Those on the opposite side of the issue also reached out for support Tuesday.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was the keynote speaker at the Americans for Prosperity's Patients First rally against government-centered health care reform at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

McCrory said government takeover of health care will hurt patients by delaying and denying treatments.

"People are worried about losing access to the doctor of their choice, getting the quality of care of their choice, and they are worried that it will become a bureaucratic nightmare,” McCrory said.

Patients First has started an online petition to urge lawmakers to oppose government-run health care legislation. The group is also airing television ads nationwide against the plan.

The cost of a government-run plan is among the concerns for Patients First supporters.

"I am already very concerned about the money that has been given away. I don't see how our country will ever get back on our feet financially,” said Julie Simons, who is against Obama's health care plan.

Despite the cost, others say health care should be available to everyone, and the best way to achieve that is with reform.

"If this gets 46 million off un-insurance, that's the most important thing I think we can get,” said Danyale Washington, an Organizing for America supporter.

Obama has insisted that legislation reinventing the nation's $2.4 trillion health care system be in place before Congress recesses in August, but the plan has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans and some Democrats that it is too expensive.

The bill before the U.S. House of Representatives would, for the first time, require all individuals to have health insurance and all employers to provide it.

Under the proposal, the poor would get subsidies to buy insurance and insurers would be barred from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The bill also would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, the top 1.2 percent of earners.

The president is scheduled to address the nation on the matter Wednesday at 8 p.m. Watch the address live on WRAL.com or on WRAL-TV.