The Battle of Obamacare Anecdotes

National Journal Live Q&A with Fred Upton.
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Add to Briefcase
Sophie Novack
Nov. 25, 2013, 11:57 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans are fo­cused on col­lect­ing con­stitu­ent stor­ies to at­tack the health care law. But without a vi­able health care al­tern­at­ive, they have few solu­tions to of­fer those shar­ing their ex­per­i­ences.

Last Thursday, Mary Swan­son shared her Obama­care story with mem­bers of Con­gress from her home in south­w­est Michigan.

A Re­altor who re­cently re­ceived a can­cel­la­tion let­ter from her in­sur­ance com­pany, Swan­son said she and her hus­band will be fa­cing large in­creases in cov­er­age costs un­der the health care law. “We both work in fields that are very volat­ile, be­cause it’s totally de­pend­ent on the hous­ing mar­ket,” she said on a Google Hangout with Reps. Fred Up­ton, R-Mich., and John Shimkus, R-Ill.

“That is really bad,” Up­ton re­spon­ded. “That is really bad.”

As prob­lems with Obama­care im­ple­ment­a­tion con­tin­ue, House Re­pub­lic­ans are de­vel­op­ing an in­creas­ingly or­gan­ized at­tack plan go­ing in­to the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day. The strategy is out­lined in an anti-Obama­care “play­book,” with an em­phas­is on col­lect­ing con­stitu­ent stor­ies that il­lus­trate neg­at­ive im­pacts of the law.

“Over the break we are en­cour­aging mem­bers to start col­lect­ing stor­ies re­lated to in­creased premi­ums/costs as well as se­cur­ity con­cerns,” Nate Hod­son, com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or for the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence, wrote in an email. “Our goal is to en­cour­age of­fices to use these stor­ies in all forms of com­mu­nic­a­tion — wheth­er on the floor, in hear­ings, in press re­leases, on so­cial me­dia, etc.”

House Re­pub­lic­ans are reach­ing out to con­stitu­ents through so­cial me­dia, emails, and their web­sites, and in­di­vidu­als are en­cour­aged to sub­mit their stor­ies at  www.gop.gov/yourstory.

“Health care is an ex­tremely per­son­al is­sue, so there is noth­ing more power­ful to com­mu­nic­ate than the per­son­al stor­ies of those be­ing im­pacted by this law,” Hod­son wrote.

Two Google Hangouts at the end of last week were the first fo­cused spe­cific­ally on Obama­care since im­ple­ment­a­tion began. Hod­son says mov­ing for­ward, a hand­ful each week will be fo­cused on the health care law.

“Thank you for be­ing here,” Shimkus greeted the three in­di­vidu­als on the hangout. “We’re real people here, you’re real people out there, we need to hear your stor­ies.”

Yet without a feas­ible Re­pub­lic­an health care al­tern­at­ive, rep­res­ent­at­ives have little to of­fer those shar­ing their stor­ies.

“You’re with mil­lions of oth­er Amer­ic­ans think­ing ex­actly the same thoughts,” Up­ton told Tim Brown, whose in­sur­ance plan was re­cently can­celed. “We don’t have the right an­swer that we’d like to provide for you.”

At no point did the law­makers sug­gest the par­ti­cipants look in­to wheth­er they would be eli­gible for sub­sidies or would have any oth­er op­tions un­der the law.

Those par­ti­cip­at­ing in the hangouts are primar­ily in­di­vidu­als whose pri­or plans have been can­celed, yet the law­makers made no men­tion of Pres­id­ent Obama’s re­cent an­nounce­ment that in­di­vidu­als could keep health plans that aren’t Af­fordabe Care Act-com­pli­ant for an­oth­er year if in­surers de­cided to ex­tend them. Up­ton’s bill al­low­ing in­di­vidu­als to keep their plans was men­tioned sev­er­al times as a po­ten­tial solu­tion, though Up­ton ac­know­ledged it would not pass the Sen­ate.

“House Re­pub­lic­ans have con­tin­ued to of­fer ideas,” Rory Cooper, com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or for Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, wrote in an email. “But any real re­form that lowers costs and in­creases ac­cess must be­gin with the re­peal of Obama­care.”

With re­peal still an un­real­ist­ic goal, and little unity be­hind a dis­tinct Obama­care al­tern­at­ive, the strategy’s end goal re­mains un­clear. Yet as they re­turn to their dis­tricts for the hol­i­day, Re­pub­lic­ans re­main com­mit­ted to col­lect­ing stor­ies as am­muni­tion against the law.

“I hope y’all keep the heat up on it,” Brown urged the law­makers at the end of the call.

“Oh we will,” Up­ton re­spon­ded. “The burn­er’s on high.”

What We're Following See More »
WANTS ANSWERS ON CLINTON EMAIL PROBE
Senate Judiciary Sends Questions to Loretta Lynch
2 days ago
THE LATEST
ARE “OPEN TO NEGOTIATION”
Sens. Paul, Cruz, Johnson and Lee Oppose Senate Health Care Bill
3 days ago
THE LATEST

The four Senators released a joint statement, saying in part, "There are provisions in this draft that repreesnt an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs."

Source:
TRUMP SUGGESTED THERE WERE TAPES
No Comey Tapes
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon, "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings."

Source:
DEVELOPING
Senate Healthcare Bill In Trouble?
3 days ago
BREAKING
BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT
Senate Republicans Unveil Healthcare Bill
3 days ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login