Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Congressman Bishop returns home after narrow vote

Len Kiese of WALB Albany reported on this last night.
–The battle over health care is far from over but it did clear a major hurdle over the weekend when the House of Representatives passed its version of the bill. Congressman Sanford Bishop returned home Tuesday night for the first time since that narrow vote.

Supporters of health care reform are touting the House's passage of a bill as a victory. Congressman Bishop says the bill will give a lot of hope to a lot of people but some people still aren't sold.

There was singing and applause at Albany Towers for Congressman Sanford Bishop and his vote of yes on healthcare reform Tuesday evening. "I am uninsured and it's going to help me personally as well," said one supporter.

Several supporters filled the lobby outside his downtown Albany office to say 'thank you'. "This will take the pressure off a lot of people to be able to have health insurance," said supporter Bill Dennis.

"The current system is broken and we have to start somewhere," said another supporter.

Bishop told the crowd the road to that narrow 220 to 215 vote in the House of Representatives was a long and hard one. "But you know they say the journey of 1,000 miles begins with the very first step," said Bishop.

But he says with the tough decision upon lawmakers he had to ask himself a question. "I had to ask myself what would Jesus do?," said Bishop.

So he went with the package he touts as a good start for reform he says will outlaw denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions and give affordable and accessible insurance to almost everyone in the 2nd Congressional District. "With the exception of those who are here unlawfully in this area," said Bishop.

"With this vote right here, he showed us where his heart is at," said a Bishop supporter.

Not everyone feels House lawmakers had the best interest of Americans at heart with last week's vote. "The government is getting bigger and bigger. Any government that is able to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you've got and we're moving in that direction and it's scary," said Kathy Young who's opposed to the bill.

"It's government taking over a service that like everything else is not going to work," said Kevin Jackson.

Jackson feels the current bill would end up hurting who it's aimed to help. "They look at it like oh no it's not going to affect anybody. All these policies negatively affect the poor but the Democrats and liberals act is if these are the things that are going to help," said Jackson.

Supporters including the local NAACP disagree. "The public option means more choice, more families covered and fewer forced into bankruptcy," said an NAACP representative.

"I think that it is a good first step," said Bishop.

It's a first step but there are plenty more to go until a final bill is passed. Bishop says the bill isn't perfect but with more input from the Senate he's confident there will be a final bill that Americans will be proud of.

He also says the House plan won't add a dime to the federal deficit. The House version would impose a 5.4-percent surcharge on individuals who earn $500,000 or corporations earning $1-million a year to pay for the bill.

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