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Representatives Burgess, Johnson Differ On Repealing Healthcare Plan

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-946388.mp3

Dallas, TX – We asked two Texas representatives who will vote today to explain their different perspectives. Shelley Kofler talked to Republican Michael Burgess of Flower Mound and Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas.

Congresswoman Johnson: I haven't met anyone who is against making sure people can get insured without concern for a lot of preexisting conditions.

Ask Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson why she so adamantly supports the healthcare bill and the Dallas democrat talks about the millions of Americans who will no longer lose their health insurance because they've been sick.

Johnson: This piece of legislation gets rid of that silliness. It also makes sure young people can stay with their parents plan until they are 26 years old. That is needed very much right now because our college graduates coming out with bachelors degrees and cannot get jobs so they can't afford health insurance.

Congresswoman Johnson, a nurse, also backs one of the most controversial parts of the legislation, a requirement that most Americans buy or sign up for health insurance.

Johnson: I think that when people are able to pay something for themselves everybody likes it better. I certainly do. Everyone whose paying for insurance right now they're paying for 4 or 5 people that are not insured. I don't like that but I'm doing it. If these 4 or 5 people had an opportunity to purchase insurance policy and also to have a focus on prevention of insurance so that they don't end up in the most expensive place they can go for sickness and that's emergency rooms I believe we'd all be better off.

Requiring Americans to buy insurance is what Republican Congressman Michael Burgess dislikes most about the national healthcare plan.

Congressman Burgess: This to me breaks the fundamental bond of what it means to be an American. For the federal government now to tell you, you must buy a product and under the Commerce clause we will regulate that product. Now wait a minute. If they are able to require us to purchase an insurance policy where is the limit on that? This is fundamentally wrong and most people understand this is fundamentally wrong.

Congressman Burgess, a physician from Flower Mound, disagrees with Democrats who say the plan will bring down healthcare costs for citizens and the government. Burgess believes taxpayers are already spending more to support a new division the health and human services agency has created to administer the plan. Burgess: We need Secretary Sebelius to come in and talk to us about how she has restructured her agency and created new spin off agencies and why it was necessary to do that. Where does she think she gets the authority in statute to do that? The funding question clearly needs to be answered.

Burgess says he wants the roll to be called when the repeal vote is taken so each representative's position is clear.

Burgess: Yes, people need to go on record.

Burgess says voters who elected the new republican majority in the House want to know their representatives supported repeal.

Democrat Johnson believes the number of Americans and Texans supporting the healthcare package is growing. Johnson says she'll happily go on record in favor of keeping the plan.

Email Shelley Kofler