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Owens Supports House Health Care Bill

Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) on Friday ended speculation about whether he supports the House Democratic health care plan: He does.

Owens, who was sworn in Friday afternoon and whose vote is key to passage of the $1.3 trillion health care overhaul headed for a vote on Saturday, said the bill “is exactly the direction we need to go— because it reforms the insurance industry and increases health care access.

The upstate New York Democrat said he still has concerns with provisions that would raise the payroll exemption for small businesses and prevent paper producers from receiving a tax credit for the production of certain wood byproducts.

“But like I said last week, there is a fundamental need for reform, and we must act with a sense of urgency,— Owens said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee jumped on Owens for backing the bill since, during his campaign, he said he was opposed to cutting Medicare, which is proposed in the House bill.

“Now that Owens is under [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, his plans to act independently seem to have been shoved aside. He’s being courted by top Washington Democrats to flip on his promise to oppose a public option, protect Medicare benefits and hold the line on taxes. If Owens flips on these promises to central and northern New Yorkers, this could be the quickest broken promise in the history of Congress,— NRCC spokesman Tory Mazzola said.

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