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State representatives react to health care bill

The Democratic-controlled Congress approved historic legislation Sunday, March 21, 2010, extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses.

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“The House’s passage of comprehensive health care reform is a milestone achievement that will benefit North Carolina’s hardworking families and small businesses and will finally make health insurance available to people with preexisting conditions,” Sen. Kay Hagan said in a statement.
“The working families of the 2nd District need solutions, not more fear, neither the real fears of rising cost nor the false fears spread by special interests. I have listened to North Carolinians from all points of view and after prayerful consideration, I voted for these needed reforms because this is the best chance we have to reduce sky-rocketing health care costs for North Carolina families," 2nd District Congressman Bob Etheridge said in a statement.
"This is a very good product. I think it takes care of the main objective, which is to make health insurance available for all Americans. Those who don’t have it and those who do have it will be assured it won’t be taken away from them when they get sick with these life-time limits or annual limits. And if they change jobs, they can take their insurance right along with them. It is really a step forward, comparable, I think, to Medicare and Social Security. It’s a night we’ll remember for a long time. It was divisive because I think some people just decided to defeat it, rather than try to participate in formulating the bill. But, you know, a lot of ideas from all over the place, including a lot of Republican ideas, were eventually incorporated in this. I have, for a long time ever since I began in public service, I have always thought that we needed to make certain that the basic need of access to heath care was available to every American, just like every Western industrialized country assures that. And we have chosen to do that through the private marketplace. Most people are covered at work and we will make sure that coverage is there for them. That it’s just as good as they think it is, with no unpleasant surprised. And for those who are not covered by the present system, there’s going to be a new marketplace with competing private plans so they can buy affordable coverage. This is something that is just long overdue and a lot of people feel that way. Most Americans feel that way even though not everyone agreed on this specific bill, I just don’t find anybody defending the status quo. Everybody knows it needs to be changed, that it’s not working for the families of the country. It is breaking the bank, it’s bankrupting our families, our businesses, our taxpayers. It just can’t go on like this. This bill is fully paid for. Unlike the previous administration, you just have to say where were these folks when George Bush did something far more expensive, namely $2 trillion worth of tax cuts and borrowed every dime? Where were they with the prescription drug plan which was done with borrowed money? This time we’ve resolved we are going to pay for this. We are not going to add to the deficit and indeed, this bill does not add to the deficit, in fact, it reduces the deficit. In terms of cost of individuals, we’re all paying $1,000 on the average for uncompensated coverage of people who aren’t covered and end up in the emergency rooms, so we’re going to get these people covered, get them in care before they’re ready for the emergency room. And the premium increases that have gone up so far will not go up nearly as fast. One thing that you wouldn’t have know from some of the opponent’s rhetoric is for people who have coverage at work, who have good coverage at work and who value that coverage – they won’t see much change at all. What they will see is some of the unpleasant surprised removed. In other words, they may think they have good coverage, but if those policies have annual limits or lifetime limits that could lead to the plug being pulled on them when they get sick, then that will no longer be the case. But basically people who have coverage at work will not see very much change, except these consumer protections. For people who are on the open market trying to buy insurance or for small businesses who don’t offer coverage, that’s where the change will come. Because they will have in the short-run, if they have pre-existing conditions, they’ll have access to a high-risk pool with affordable insurance. Families can keep 20-somethings on their policies for longer. And withing a few years, they’ll be able to exchange – where people can get the same kind of breaks in buying insurance that the big companies already get, the same kind of volume discounts. That’s the goal, to give everybody access to a marketplace with competing private plans that will offer them coverage they can afford," said
4th District Congressman David Price.
“Like Social Security and Medicare before, these reforms provide a historic step toward making good on the promise of ensuring every American has access to high-quality, affordable health care. These reforms will finally bring an end to the quiet struggle millions of Americans face each day with a system that works better for the health insurance companies than it does for them," 1st District Congressman G.K. Butterfield said in a statement.
“Although this bill is far from perfect, I applaud this very important first step in ensuring that every American has stable and secure health care. Our current system is unsustainable for families and businesses, and health insurance reform is imperative for the long-term strength of our economy," said former state Sen. Cal Cunningham said in a statement.
"It’s something that should have happened a long time ago. We’re paying twice as much for healthcare as the rest of the world. Other countries like ours and people in other places live longer and are healthier. We need to get better care and we need to get cheaper care. And it should be very possible to do both because every other country does. Small businesses are going to get help with buying insurance for their employees. Some of the health care consumer protections are going to go into effect very quickly. Insurance companies are not going to be able to kick you out of your policy if you get sick or come up with some gimmick to say that you had some disease before that you didn’t disclose and now you’re out of their plan. They’re not going to be able to put lifetime caps on what kind of care you get ... Rex Hospital, the folks with Rex told me that 1/3 of the people in their charity care have insurance, but because of the co-pays and the caps or whatever, because of the coverage not covering the care they needed, they had to be in charity care. So those kinds of things are going to change very quickly. Pre-existing conditions for children is going to be prohibited very quickly. Parents are going to be able to keep children on their policies up until age 26. That’s going to happen this year. A lot of the insurance consumer protections are going to take effect right away. The donut hold for the Medicare prescription drug plan is going to close by $250 right away, and it’s going to be gone completely in 10 years," said 13th District Congressman Brad Miller.
“Despite being marketed as a health care reform bill, the legislation that passed today amounts to nothing more than a massive expansion of the federal government. It fails to deliver on the promise to lower health care costs, and will instead actually increase costs for many Americans. It also imposes new taxes, fees, and penalties, which will fall on the backs of hard-working Americans who are already struggling in this difficult economy. The American people spoke, but unfortunately, Washington didn’t listen. The only winner in this deal is the federal government,” U.S. Senator Richard Burr said in a statement.
WRAL is collecting more statements and will post them as they become available.


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