State News

GOP officials, protesters push for N.C. to join health reform suit

Posted April 6, 2010 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated April 6, 2010 4:08 p.m. EDT

— Conservatives are trying to build pressure on North Carolina's elected leaders to challenge the new health care bill signed by President Obama last month.

Fifteen states have already filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of the health care reform law, and Republicans are pushing to get North Carolina involved in the increasingly partisan effort.

During a Council of State meeting Tuesday morning, the two Republican statewide officials, Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, wanted to discuss funding for a lawsuit. Gov. Beverly Perdue ended the conversation, noting Attorney General Roy Cooper wasn't at the meeting.

Cooper was meeting with FBI agents in Charlotte.

"This impacts every citizen of the state, regardless of their political affiliation, and we just believe this is a policy discussion that needs to be held," Berry said. "I'm very disappointed that the attorney general was not in attendance."

As the state officials were meeting, a few hundred health reform opponents rallied on the Halifax Mall behind the Legislative Building.

The tea party protesters urged the state to join in the lawsuit challenging the cost and mandates of health care reform.

Some GOP lawmakers plan to introduce bills in the House and the Senate before the General Assembly reconvenes next month that would prevent the government from requiring people to obtain health insurance – a key provision of the new federal law.

“The people of North Carolina must be protected from this unprecedented and unconstitutional overreach by the federal government," Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said in a statement. "This bill aims to protect the rights of individual citizens who want to maintain control over their own health care decisions.”

A spokeswoman for Cooper said he is reviewing the legal and constitutional merits of any action.