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Democrats brace for Obamacare fallout

"Democrats brace for Obamacare fallout" Continued...

Meanwhile, Democrats are bracing for the next Obamacare bombshell. That likely will occur when a second Obama pledge crumbles. Despite the president’s oft-repeated promise that Americans could keep their doctors, there will be less choices in doctors and hospitals under Obamacare. In New Hampshire, 10 out of 26 major hospitals are excluded from Obamacare. Six hospitals in Maine and six hospitals in Kentucky are also being excluded. A medical group survey of about 48,000 physicians this fall found that less than 30 percent would join the Obamacare exchanges.

A second wave of policy cancellations are expected to hit next fall just in time for the midterm elections. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) predicts that up to two-thirds of small businesses would see policies canceled next year or be forced to send workers to the insurance exchanges created by the new law. As many as 100 million polices could be affected as businesses try to comply with Obamacare’s mandates, AEI predicts, as businesses weigh the option of offering more expensive plans for their employees that meet the government’s approval or dropping coverage altogether.

That information was timed to hit consumers next October, right before the elections. But in its latest kiss to congressional Democrats, the Obama administration last week moved the start date for Obamacare enrollment in 2014 from Oct. 15, 2014 until Nov. 15, or 11 days after the Nov. 4 elections.

Additional efforts to wipe Obamacare from voters’ memories came in the form of a 22-page strategy memo the White House gave Democrats in mid-November. It urged lawmakers to change the subject by talking about October’s government shutdown and the debt-ceiling debate.

But Republicans are not going to let Democrats rewind the clock or hide their support for Obamacare: The Republican National Committee on Nov. 20 invited Democrats to a mock Obamacare press conference that included a photo opportunity in front of a banner reading, “Eager and Proud to Run on Obamacare in 2014.”

Republicans also are making sure that voters don’t forget their anger over canceled polices and higher insurance premiums.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee just finished its best fundraising month of the year, raising $3.8 million. Americans for Prosperity in November launched a $4 million advertising campaign using Obamacare to target vulnerable congressional Democrats.

“I would imagine that there would be more and more attacks coming for months on end,” said Rep. Patrick Murphy, a freshman representative and Democrat from Florida who beat incumbent Republican Allen West by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2012. Murphy voted in favor of the Republican-sponsored bill to allow consumers to keep their current insurance plans.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican from California who is one of Obamacare’s strongest critics on Capitol Hill, has launched a series of field hearings about the law at locations across the country.

At the first such congressional hearing in Gastonia, N.C., last Friday, five witnesses from the area related their own Obamacare nightmares.

Sherry Overbey testified that her monthly health insurance premium will jump from $395.60 to $713.11 beginning next year. She said that’s higher than her mortgage payment. It also comes with a higher deductible and higher out-of-pocket costs.

“Of course, I now have maternity coverage,” she testified. “I can also get free birth control pills, which at age 58, I am sure I will need both frequently.”

Jason Falls, an insurance agent from Kings Mountain, N.C., said he had “serious concerns” about Obamacare and that his friends and neighbors are “confused, concerned, mad, and fed up.”

“We can’t see the relationship between the value of the new plans and the dollars it takes from our families’ budget,” he added.

Falls told stories of an individual whose co-pay for medication will rise from $250 a month to nearly $600 a month under the new plan offered under Obamacare’s guidelines. He also testified about a couple who own a small business in North Carolina who are planning on limiting their production and sales to under $62,000 next year in order to qualify for Obamacare subsidies. According to Falls, they had a gross income of $64,000 last year, so they plan on contracting their business rather than growing it.

There will be similar field hearings across the country, including one in Arizona, in December.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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