Tea Party activists, doctors in lab coats, and health care advocates packed a hearing Thursday at the state Capitol. They were there to register their support or opposition to a proposed state-created website that would allow people to comparison shop for health insurance.
The health exchange is required by the federal government under new national health care laws. Most people who testified were at the hearing to oppose the national health care plan in full. Stan Broyles told lawmakers that people are not entitled to health care coverage.
"There's a disease in our land that kills gratitude - it's called entitlement. When someone is entitled to something they need no gratitude. What we end up with is an unquenchable thirst or hunger for more," Broyles said.
Dr. Fadwa Gillanders, a chronic disease-management specialist, opposes national health care. She told lawmakers about a patient with several chronic conditions who called her - in her words - begging for help.
"I get beggars every day," she says. "We're turning into a nation of beggars, pawners. 'Can you give me? Can you give me?' Because we don't know how to take care of ourselves, and we're hoping insurance will make it better, but it actually makes it worse."
Supporters of the plan say health care costs are too expensive and too few people receive adequate care.
Kenneth Ashley supports the Affordable Care Act. He suffered a brain aneurism and massive stroke that left him paralyzed on one side a couple years ago. Ashley told state lawmakers he was unemployed and did not have insurance at the time.
"Don't leave people like me out in the cold," he says. "I'm not trying to get over on the system. What really irks me is I'm a lifelong Republican, and their opposition to the ACA and all the health care acts just galls me."
Some supporters also say the state should create the health exchange website now before the federal government imposes its own website on the state.