Local News

Obama to tout health care reform in Raleigh

Posted July 24, 2009 7:25 a.m. EDT
Updated July 24, 2009 6:45 p.m. EDT

— The heated debate over health care reform will take center stage in Raleigh next week as President Barack Obama visits the Capital City to tout his controversial health care reform plan.

The White House said Friday that Obama is scheduled to appear at a health care-related event on Wednesday. Further details of the president's visit were not disclosed.

Meanwhile Friday, heavy hitters in the insurance industry spoke out against the president's proposal, which, for the first time, would require every American to be insured.

A new government insurance program would compete with private insurers, and insurance companies would be barred from excluding people with pre-existing conditions. The goals are to hold down costs and extend coverage to most of the 50 million uninsured Americans. The price tag: $1 trillion-plus over a decade.

Obama has called on Congress to approve the plan before it recesses the first week in August. Both House and Senate leaders have said that likely won't happen.

"I think the American people deserve better," said Robert Seligson, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the North Carolina Medical Society. "They deserve a bill that's been well debated, well discussed and passed with a lot of detail."

Seligson said the plan doesn't do enough to revamp the entire health care system.

"(The plan needs to have) been through the gauntlet to make sure the ultimate outcome of the bill is a positive one that has long-term positive ramifications for our health care system," Seligson said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina's chief executive officer, Bob Greczyn, said legislators are rushing to approve a plan and are overlooking the quality of care.

The company has said it supports covering everyone, promoting quality and containing costs, and Greczyn said he does believe the health care system needs to be revamped but that the government should not get involved.

"We think it's not at all necessary for a government option to be in place," Greczyn said. "We think we can accomplish all the other aspects of health care reform without, essentially, a government plan."

While those opposed to the president's plan, as it currently stands, met, members of the State Employees Association of North Carolina rallied in support of the president's plan.

Association members said they believe Obama's public option plan will help lower costs, provide better options for the public and create competition, which would be a benefit to consumers in the long run.