In an anticipated announcement, Chapel Hill’s representative in Congress said Monday that he plans to vote for health care overhaul legislation.
“It won’t surprise you to know that I am announcing my intention to vote for it,” said U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., before the cheers of about 25 supporters swallowed his voice.
Price, who held a press conference in Durham to announce his support, said the final legislation will expand health insurance availability and lead to a more sustainable health care system.
Price said he is the first member of the North Carolina delegation to announce a ‘yes’ vote.
He has been on board with the overhaul since its initial proposal and was one of 220 members who voted for the House of Representatives’ bill in November.
“We need to get real about this. You either favor serious reform or you don’t,” Price said.
Congress will use a process called reconciliation to pass the legislation. This allows the House to approve the Senate version — which passed with 60 votes in December — then send a corrections bill through both houses to clear up differences between the two versions of the bill.
The plan is unpopular with Republicans and some liberal House Democrats who don’t like the Senate version, which they think doesn’t go far enough in reforming the health care system.
Price said the reconciliation bill, which will be based off recommendations President Obama released last week, will do more to crack down on fraud and abuse, strengthen oversight of premium increases and add consumer protections.
He also repeated Obama’s frequent assurance that people who like their health insurance will not have to change their coverage.
House leaders have said they hope to vote on the Senate bill by the end of the week, said Andrew High, Price’s press secretary.
Price said the House doesn’t have every vote for the legislation locked down, but he expects it will pass. Three N.C. Democrats — Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler — voted against the House bill.
“We as a country, as a national community, owe this to ourselves,” Price said. “I don’t know anybody ... who thinks the status quo is sustainable.”
He was joined at the press conference by three constituents who explained their support for health legislation.
David Swanson of Durham said his 17-year-old daughter’s insurance premium rose 54 percent this year, and Libbie Hough of Hillsborough said she worries that her daughter won’t be able to get coverage after college because of a pre-existing medical condition.
Blake Anderson of Durham said he can’t afford to provide health insurance to the four employees of the business he owns.
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