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3 NC Dems vote against health reform – top in the country

As far as I can tell, only Tennessee matched us in having three Democrats actually vote against health care reform – more than any other state. This is pretty embarrassing for a state that voted for Obama for President and where there was an unprecedented battle over the last few months to convince moderate and conservative Democrats to vote for health reform. Make no mistake though – for the other Democrats in the delegation, this was a tough vote. They deserve our thanks and support for making the choice for affordable health care over the cry of the opposition to do nothing.

Reflecting on the vote, one can also find a moral dimension and some irony. Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler, and Mike McIntyre represent some of the poorest parts of our state and have some of the highest percentages of people who can’t afford coverage in their districts. In fact all three have over 20% of people under 65 uninsured in their districts – well above the state average of 17%. For them, a vote against reform was really a vote against people they see and hear from every day. We know they were contacted again and again by people and families all over their districts who can’t afford coverage or have family members who have died or become gravely ill because they couldn’t afford coverage. The irony is that NC Democrats in districts where there were more people with insurance were more likely to vote for the bill.

The battle isn’t over however. The bill the Senate passes will differ from the one in the House and the final bill worked out in conference will again change. Therefore there will be one more chance for McIntyre, Shuler and Kissell to vote for their constituents and against their desire to simply remain in office at any cost. Now that they have declared their true colors, there will be no hiding behind – as they have for months – the mantra that they really care about the people who can’t afford coverage or are losing their jobs but are “looking at the bill” and really do support health reform.

Larry Kissell is an especially strange case. His district voted for Obama last year – unlike McIntyre’s and Shuler’s – and he received extensive progressive support in his election. He can expect to hear from many people who can’t believe he voted the way he did, and he may rethink his position on the final bill.

North Carolina can do better – let’s work to make it happen.

20 Comments

  1. William Westermeyer

    November 8, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    The bill was less progressive than some members of congress…nuf said

  2. steve

    November 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Someone needs to run against mcintyre in the primary!!!

  3. Wes

    November 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Yeah! Run someone against McIntyre, the local party establishment will laugh at you and for good reason. Even if your nutroots backed candidate won, I’m 99% sure he would be to liberal to win in the general election. There are a lot of flaws in the bill that passed yesterday. It relies to much on the outdated employer based system. Something should have been passed similar to the Wyden Bennett bill. Don’t purge the moderates out of Democratic Party like the wingnuts in the Republican party have.

  4. Laurie

    November 8, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Let me educate you. We may be in the poorer section of NC but we’re proud folk, and don’t take a handout from NOBODY, especially the government. We take care of our own, and our neighbors. We pay our own bills. And we teach our kids the same. Thank you, Heath.

  5. Adam Searing

    November 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    When you don’t have insurance and get cancer, you can have the best friends in the world, but they aren’t going to be able to pay $100,000 medical bills. Then if you try and buy insurance from Blue Cross with a cancer diagnosis, your premium can easily be $2,000/mo.

    Health reform isn’t a handout – people will be required to pay premiums, but premiums they can afford. And Blue Cross will no longer be allowed to charge people more for insurance just because they have a pre-existing health condition like cancer.

    We’ve spent plenty of time down in McIntyre’s district and the surrounding area and we’ve met plenty of people in the situation I just described or with similar problems. We know many of them have talked to Rep. McIntyre about this because they have told us.

    Health reform means not having to worry about becoming bankrupt just because you get sick. It means getting control of our health spending. And it means innovation – if you want to start a small business you don’t have to worry about not being able to afford health insurance because you quit your job at the big company and lost the health plan there.

  6. Adam Searing

    November 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Oh, and as for purging moderates, the House bill that passed yesterday is in many ways quite moderate in my view and that of many progressives. It maintains private insurance companies with more regulation, exempts most small businesses from many of the requirements to offer coverage larger businesses are subject to, and makes extensive use of tax credits to help small business and individuals afford coverage.

    If you want radical from the left, just expand Medicare to people under 65. If you want radical from the right then dismantle employer-provided insurance and give everyone a tax credit to try and buy coverage on their own (good luck cancer survivors). The House bill didn’t do either of those things and charted a middle course.

  7. Jackson

    November 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Maybe I shouldn’t have given to Kissel after all. Unreal.

  8. Single Payer Action

    November 9, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Yesterday, Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY), a lead single payer advocate in the House, said he would vote against Obamacare:

    “At the highest level this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry. There’s no other way to look at it.”

    Dennis Kucinich in a press release at his web site explained why he voted NO on the House bill, calling it a “bailout under a blue shield”. He is right!

  9. Single Payer Action

    November 9, 2009 at 5:15 am

    maybe it was the increased Medicaid costs being fobbed off on the states by the Obama adm, that these Reps were concerned about.

  10. Another MD For Single Payer

    November 9, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Another doctor chimes in on the single-payer option

    Dr. Ellen Kaczmarek, Asheville

    A heartfelt public “thank you” to Dr. Michael Rey for his guest commentary, “ER doctor analyzes health reform debate,” (AC-T, Oct. 23). He echoed my sentiments exactly, and as a practicing primary care physician, I strongly second his desire for a universal single-payer health care system.

    I have practiced in the National Health Service Corps in a physician-underserved area (folks underemployed and not covered by Medicaid) and currently provide health care for a population totally covered by Medicare. The differences in my ability to achieve adequate care in these two situations are staggering. All U.S. citizens are entitled to adequate health care as their right.

    Consider this in on-going discussions of health care coverage: The demand by organized labor for health care coverage has increased the costs of manufacturing to the point that much industry has left the U.S. Can we continue to have employer-based health care at the expense of losing more U.S. industry?

    Dr. Ellen Kaczmarek, Asheville

  11. AdamL

    November 9, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Single Payer Action, NC’s budget for Medicaid would increase less than 1 percent after reform — the feds pick up the cost for 95 percent of newly eligibles, which is a major cost of the reform package.

    Wes, President Obama campaigned on preserving the employer based health insurance system. McCain was defeated by campaigning against the employer based health insurance system. Most people get their insurance through work and want to keep that insurance. Unions, businesses, and most people with insurance oppose changing the employer based health insurance system.

    While it may be (arguably) good policy to alter the employer based system it is not politically viable.

  12. Radio4All

    November 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Interesting discussion on progressive TV/Radio:

    “House Passes Landmark Healthcare Bill with Amendment Backed by Anti-Abortion Lawmakers”

    about the so-called ‘health reform’ bill on today’s Democracy Now! with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democratic Congress member from Ohio and Jane Hamsher, founder of the Firedoglake.

    you can hear it on WNCU radio in Durham this evening….

  13. Real Progressive Media

    November 9, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Democracy Now can be heard in NC at

    Asheville URTV Ch. 20 8am & 12pm, M-F
    Asheville WFRA 107.5 FM 6pm M
    Asheville WPVM-LP 103.5 FM 8am, 12pm, 6pm & 2am M-F
    Asheville Progressive Voice of the Mountains 103.5 Titulares De Hoy a las 7pm L-V
    Carrboro WCOM 103.5 FM 8am M-F
    Chapel Hill The Peoples Channel, Ch. 8 7pm M-F
    Durham WNCU 90.7 FM 6:30pm M-F
    Greensboro WQFS 90.9 FM 5pm M-F
    Winston-Salem WSNC 90.5 FM 6pm, M-F

  14. Real Dem

    November 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    “We may be in the poorer section of NC but we’re proud folk, and don’t take a handout from NOBODY, especially the government. We take care of our own, and our neighbors. We pay our own bills. And we teach our kids the same. Thank you, Heath.”

    Laurie, do you know anyone on Medicare or Medicaid, receiving unemployment benefits? I’ll bet you do. Are those handouts?

    You can make an argument about this particular bill, but calling it a “handout” isn’t one – it simply reveals your profound ignorance of the health care debate.

  15. Louie

    November 9, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    FROM THE CALIFORNIA NURSES ASSOCIATION: This Bill Fails to Control Costs

    While the current bills will provide limited assistance for some, the inconvenient truth is they fall far short in effective controls on skyrocketing insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital costs, do little to stop insurance companies from denying needed medical care recommended by doctors, and provide little relief for Americans with employer-sponsored insurance worried about health security for themselves and their families.

  16. IBXer

    November 10, 2009 at 9:17 am

    NC cannot afford the obamanation that passed the House this weekend. We won’t be able to educate our children or hire police because we will be too busy working to pay for everyone’s tummy tucks.

  17. Jack

    November 10, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Tummy tucks, right. Now for something from the real world.

    Just received an annual increase in personal healthcare premium, courtesy of a really big insurance company. Last year the increase was just under $100, his year it’s over $100.

    It’s hard not to think, at some level, that the premium increase isn’t punitive in nature. But, as it’s been said, many times many ways, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

  18. IBXer

    November 12, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Jack, private business cannot have punative policies because they have no way to enforce them.

    Government, on the other hand…

    $250,000 and/or 5 years in prison for not having insurance.

    Now that is punative

  19. Sarah

    November 12, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    There are no criminal penalties in any of the proposed bills for not having insurance. That’s just not true.

  20. [...] Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler , and Mike McIntyre represent some of the poorest parts of our state and have some of the highest percentages of people who can’t afford coverage in their districts. In fact all three have over 20% of people …This Post [...]