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Charlotte Area

Chamber takes a stand on health care

In Washington today the U.S. Senate again took up the volatile issue of a so-called "public option" in the health care reform bill. In Charlotte, business leaders decided it was time to take a stand, too. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce waded into the arena of angry rhetoric over health care long ago with ads that say "Let's stop the new health care tax. Tell Congress to keep their hands to themselves and out of your pockets." The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce has been slower to join the debate. Only this week did its board of directors decide to stand with the U.S. Chamber. Senior Vice President Natalie English says it was because health care reform has generated more calls to Chamber officials than any other policy issue - including immigration. "So many of our members have called requesting information, requesting us to take a position," said English. "But then the second piece - in addition to our members - the second piece is our members of Congress have asked us, 'What are your members telling you?'" Thirty-four of the Charlotte Chamber's 41 board members in attendance at a meeting on Monday voted to support the U.S. Chamber's position on health care reform, which opposes creating a government run health plan to compete with private insurance companies. The Chamber is also against requiring employers to offer health insurance, although President Obama and Democrats in Congress say an insurance mandate is vital to making health care more affordable. Instead, English says the Charlotte Chamber wants Congress to slow down and consider other options such as tax credits to encourage people to purchase health insurance and savings accounts for people to spend on medical treatment.