Cover Story: Health care reform passes

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Battle lines are drawn, but what does the bill mean?  It took more than a year of debate, but the U.S. House of Representatives passed the health care reform bill late Sunday night.

The country still seems split down the middle.  Doctors staged a demonstration in Washington on Monday to support the bill.

While the tea-party is still vocal and visible in its fight against the reform.

Here in our area, there is as much pro, con and confused as everywhere else.

Few issues since the Vietnam War have ignited as much heat as this one has.

The bill itself is more than 1,000 pages long.  It affects one-sixth of the economy and touches the lives of nearly every American.

Before this weekend's final vote a Gallup poll showed more Americans believed health care reform would make things worse rather than better for the country and for them personally.

"Insurance and drugs.. they're going to go sky high," says one woman.

And though they don't like it overall there are parts they do like.

Like letting young people stay on their parents' plan.. until they are 26.

Says Bridgett Hollar who's 19, "When people are getting on their feet and trying to get their career started and get a house and everything.. that's just one less thing for them to worry about."

At Uptown Charlotte's Professional Career Center where recently laid off financial services workers get career counseling and retraining, Kelle Murphy was jubilant.  She said, "I'm definitely for all the principles of it. Anything that can help people.. something that can keep those health insurance companies in line and honest is a good thing."

When it becomes law almost everyone will be required to have insurance.  It's a provision that takes effect in 2014.  The government will help those who can't afford it.

It will help people like Betty Leake recently unemployed.  She's battled the high cost of COBRA before.  She says, "If you can't afford COBRA then you don't have health insurance. That is going to help a lot of people.. because you never know when an emergency comes up and you need to go to the doctor."

People working for medium-to-large sized companies won't see major changes.  But some of them will have to pay for others' coverage through higher taxes.  And they worry they might end up losing their own health insurance.

Said one man, "Losing my private health care insurance through my employer. it's going to happen because they're going to be face with the choice of paying an 8-percent payroll tax penalty or give me a full benefit."

"What worries you the most? The fact that I don't understand it I guess."

Our Congressional delegation split mostly along party lines.

None of the Republicans supported it from either North Carolina or South Carolina.

All the Democrats from both states favored it... with the exception of three Blue Dog Democrats.  One from our area Congressman Larry Kissell voted no.

Officials in at least 10 states have agreed to file lawsuits challenging the legislation.

State's attorneys general say it violates state sovereignty by mandating that all Americans have some form or health insurance.

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