09/10/09 — City crowd says 'no' to health care reform plan

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City crowd says 'no' to health care reform plan

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 10, 2009 1:46 PM

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Americans for Prosperity national President Tim Phillips, right, told the crowd attending the organization's Wednesday "Patients First Bus Tour" that the public option of President Obama's health care plan would put the country on "the road to killing private health insurance options." More than 300 people attended the rally, signing petitions, making donations and calling Sen. Kay Hagan's offices.

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Rhoda Brown of Goldsboro signs a petition card Wednesday during the Americans for Prosperity's Patients First Bus Tour in downtown Goldsboro.

Anyone who tried calling Sen. Kay Hagan's offices Wednesday afternoon probably got a busy signal as scores of people attending the Americans for Prosperity's Patients First Bus Tour all dialed her at once.

One man shouted out that he had gotten through and that the person answering the call had heard the crowd chanting "Hands off my health care."

More than 300 people crowded into Cornerstone Commons at the corner of Center and Chestnut streets for the rally. Most of those in attendance were of retirement age. They waved placards distributed by Americans for Prosperity.

One man was selling "Don't Tread on Me" flags for $5.

They cheered as speakers painted President Obama's health care reform package as unwanted and costly government interference. The speakers urged those attending to contact their congressional representatives and tell them to, "Keep your hands off my health care."

People lined up to sign petition cards. Others stuffed money into a donation box.

Rhoda Brown of Goldsboro, who was among those signing the cards, said she feared that the president's plan would be "very harmful, deadly."

Ms. Brown said she attended the rally because, "I just wanted to see how much people are behind this (opposition)."

Sallie Sasser of Goldsboro shared her view.

"This is about the fourth one of these I have been to. I just started my fifth year of surviving breast cancer. I am over 55 and quite frankly this scares me because if my breast cancer comes back, there is a chance of that because you are never cured you go into remission, then chances are I would not be treated with the best care that I have (received) and it would not be my choice and that would not be fair. I don't think that is right.

"It is a good crowd, but unfortunately in middle of the day and many people could not attend. It is not as big as some of the others I have been to, but it takes people to stick with it like he (Americans for Prosperity state director Dallas Woodhouse) said. Every day at 10:10 my phone goes off and I make a call to Sen. Kay Hagan, every day. Most of the times I get a recording, but sometimes I have talked and told them pretty much what I just told you. I told them that if I decided not to be treated again that should be my decision and not somebody else's."

Local Republican activist Ann Sullivan was responsible for the tour's Goldsboro stop.

"I saw all those buses going around and I called and said, 'I am one of your members. I go to all your events. I am one of your ringleaders,'" she said. "I said, 'I need a bus down here.'"

Mrs. Sullivan and friend Linda Harper left after the rally for Washington, D.C., where as staff members of Freedom Works they will participate in a series of workshops and programs over the next several days. Freedom Works is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization similar to Americans for Prosperity.

They also plan to participate in an anti-health care bill rally Saturday and attend a 9/11 ceremony at the Pentagon. They are to meet today with 3rd District Congressman Walter B. Jones.

Ms. Harper said she is most concerned about the plan's public option.

"I don't want any part of government control in health care. From what I hear from the doctors they have a hard time getting their money back from Medicare and the paper trail is difficult. I think it will be better for our nation if we do not have government control."

Tim Phillips, Americans for Prosperity national president, told the crowd that the public option would put the country on "the road to killing private health insurance options.

"These guys are saying one thing, but we know the reality of this. If this health care system that they want to put on us ... to impose on your family and my family is so good for us then why are the president and every member of Congress going to exempt themselves from it? If is so good for our families, why isn't good enough for their families in Washington, D.C.? You know the answer to that folks and the answer is that it is not."

Woodhouse said it is crucial that people in opposition to the president's plan stay in touch with their congressional representatives.

"We have to send a message to our members in Congress that we really do not want their hands on our insurance. We do not want a bigger government role in health care and we don't want the higher taxes that would come with it," he said, adding that there are many active duty and retired military in Wayne county who believe government-run health care, "leaves a lot to be desired."

Woodhouse said the key to effective health-care reform is tort reform. That would help rein in insurance costs, he said.

The tax system, he said, penalizes people who buy their own insurance. Companies can buy insurance with pre-tax dollars while individuals cannot, he said.

Also speaking were Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation and Marianne Suarez of the John William Pope Civitas Institute in Raleigh, a public policy polling group.