Tags:Western North Carolina congressional candidates have divergent views on the June 28 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.
One of President Barack Obama's signature achievements to date, the overhaul of the country's health-care system has continued to be a hot-button issue since its passage in 2010. And soon after the U.S. Supreme Court's determination that the measure is legal, responses from local congressional hopefuls have been rolling in.
Candidates in the 10th Congressional District –— which was redrawn last year to include most of Asheville — had the most disparate opinions on the topic.
Incumbent Republican Patrick McHenry asserts that the measure has been acting as an economic impediment, putting an undue burden on small-business owners. As he did in a recent Xpress questionnaire, he says working to repeal and replace the law would be a top priority if he's re-elected.
“Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, ObamaCare is still bad policy that needs to be replaced with patient-centered reforms that will actually lower the cost of care,” he says. “We should enact medical-liability reform, make insurance companies compete for patients' business by allowing them to shop across state lines, and expand health savings accounts that give taxpayers control over their own health care decisions. Until we enact real change, premiums will continue to rise for millions of American families.”
On the other hand, his challenger, Democrat Patsy Keever, praises the ruling as a demonstration of how "political leanings can be set aside to resolve the vital issues confronting Americans." She notes that conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush voted with the majority of the court.
Keever cites a long list of benefits to health care reform: young people can remain on their parents' plans until age 26; free preventative services; and clients can no longer be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. "I imagine that there are families all over North Carolina right now who are breathing a sigh of relief," she says.
Keever adds: "Regardless of what side you were on, the ruling has been made and we need to move forward together to get our economy back on track and not waste time and energy on fighting battles of the past that only serve the purpose of dividing us further."
Meanwhile, 11th District Democratic candidate Hayden Rogers is less enthusiastic, noting that he would've voted against the reform bill if he had been in Congress in 2010. At the time, Rogers served as the chief of staff for conservative Democratic incumbent Heath Shuler, who did vote against it. However, like Keever, Rogers says it's time to focus moving forward. "It is time now that we move beyond old battles, put partisan politics aside and start working together as Democrats and Republicans to achieve real solutions that increase access, improve the quality of care and reduce the cost of health care for all Americans," he says.
Republicans Mark Meadows and Vance Patterson are facing off in the July 17 runoff election; both are hoping to represent the party against Rogers in the fall. And both are slamming the bill and the court's decision to uphold it.
Meadows calls the law "the greatest attack on small businesses and seniors in recent memory." He asserts that the reforms are in the process of causing a huge tax burden as well as "decimating small businesses and stripping away our religious freedoms."
"I promise our seniors and the people of Western North Carolina that I will work tirelessly to repeal Obamacare immediately and replace it with patient-centered reforms that preserve your right to see the doctor of your choice, protect small businesses and lower costs," he maintains.
Noting that Roberts found the law constitutional under the government's power to levy taxes, Patterson asserted that the Supreme Court confirmed that the legislation is "an economy-stifling, job-killing, record-setting tax increase."
"… Every American with even a bit of common sense should be doing everything he or she can to elect a House, Senate and new president that will repeal this massive Obamacare tax before its most burdensome provisions go into effect," he adds. “With my election to the House in November, I will defend the jobs and lives of Western North Carolinians by working to support a full repeal of this law. While I do not disagree that Obamacare is a tax, I am in agreement with the four dissenting Supreme Court justices that Obamacare should have been struck down in its entirety, and remain optimistic that it will be struck down following November's elections. Anything less spells the end of America's world-leading health care system, and likely the end of America's position as the world's superpower, economic or otherwise.”