NC House Panel Challenges Federal Health Care Law

By Kendall Jones

State Republican leaders are making good on campaign promises to fight the federal health care law. 

Thursday a State House Judiciary Committee voted to block the federal government's health insurance mandate that takes effect in 2014.

Titled “An Act to Protect the Freedom to Choose Health Care and Health Insurance,” the bill that would exempt North Carolinians from the law requiring most Americans to buy insurance.

“We're going to debate this bill and we're going to vote on this bill,” Committee Chairman and Johnston County Republican Leo Daughtry said.

The bill would also require North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to either join a lawsuit with more than 20 other states fighting against the insurance mandate or file a separate lawsuit for North Carolina.

“A state law that authorizes North Carolina citizens to violate federal law could be found to be unconstitutional,” Cooper said in a statement. “The federal health law is deemed constitutional…”

(Click Here to view a letter Cooper sent to North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue after the federal health care bill passed.)

The requirement for Cooper brought objections from Democrats.

“You're talking about millions of dollars that possibly would have to be spent by our attorney general's office,” Macon County Democratic Representative Phillip Haire said.

Republicans said the true cost would come to the state if lawmakers did not pass the bill.

“All this about the bill costing money is smoke and mirrors,” Cleveland County Republican Representative Tim Moore said. “The reality is this bill is about whether you support federal mandates being imposed on our citizens or you don't.”

Some Democrats were upset the bill passed and Chairman Daughtry did not allow a public hearing.

“This bill will affect people who don't have health insurance,” Wake County Democratic Representative Grier Martin. “This bill will affect insurance companies. This bill will affect health care practitioners. We didn't get a chance to hear from any of them.”

Chairman Daughtry said the committee heard from the public when they elected Republicans to power.

“What good would it do,” Daughtry said. “I don't see how it would improve this particular process on this particular bill.”

Other lawmakers felt the entire bill was a waste of time.

“I cannot believe that we are opening this session in the middle of the worst recession since The Great Depression,” Wake County Democratic Representative Jennifer Weiss said, “we are talking about this issue rather than about how to put our people back to work.”

The full house is expected to vote on the bill as early as next Tuesday, just one week after officially opening for business.

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