We've been keeping an eye out this week for congressional Republicans taking heat from the right on the Affordable Care Act, with many far-right activists pressuring GOP lawmakers to shut down the government rather than fund "Obamacare" implementation.
But let's not overlook the fact that supporters of the federal health care system are showing up at town-hall meetings, too, and they have a message lawmakers need to hear.
This clip has been making the rounds this morning, showing a grieving mother in North Carolina who lost her son to colon cancer. As she tells a local reporter, the woman believes her son, who struggled to get health care coverage due to a pre-existing condition, might be alive today if Obamacare had become the law sooner.
The video was recorded before the woman went into a town-hall event with Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) -- a fierce opponent of health care reform, who's voted for repeal dozens of times -- and who apparently has more than one constituent who doesn't want Republicans to roll back the clock on health care.
[Local resident Skip Edwards] and his wife, both 63, had health insurance until he lost his job during the recession and the East Asheville couple found themselves in financial trouble despite staying relatively healthy.Both had pre-existing conditions and were denied insurance, making them eligible for a state plan called Inclusive Health. "It cost us $1,300 bucks a month -- extremely expensive," Edwards said. "It taps us out every month. But at our age and health, we've got to have it."McHenry, 37, has repeatedly voted against the Affordable Care Act, choosing to either defund, repeal or delay it. In defending his position, he said he did agree with some aspects of the act, including ending discrimination against pre-existing conditions and extending the age a children can stay on their parents' health insurance.
Oh, is that so.
I have to admit, I always find it a little amusing when this happens. Far-right congressional Republicans vote, over and over again, to destroy the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, insisting the whole thing has to go, root and branch. But when confronted with struggling families who actually benefit from the law, suddenly the tune changes. "Sure, I voted to repeal the law and deny your family what you need," the argument usually goes, "but I kind of like some of the popular parts...."
But McHenry shouldn't play these little games and expect to be taken seriously. He actually supports protections for those with pre-existing conditions, despite having voted the other way? That's nice, I suppose, but if the law is going to protect those with pre-existing conditions, it's going to need to bring everyone else into the system to prevent soaring costs. And once you do that, you'll also need to provide subsidies to those who can't afford coverage.
And at that point, what you have is the Affordable Care Act, which McHenry has repeatedly tried to destroy.
Congressional Republicans always seem to find it easy to condemn and sabotage the law, but find it less easy when it comes to the individual provisions that remain extremely popular. McHenry hates the dreaded Obamacare, except for the protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and the policy that covers young adults, and the tax breaks for small businesses, and the prescription-drug benefits for seniors, and....
As for the bigger picture, if GOP lawmakers have to spend the August recess convincing the right they truly hate the federal health care system, while convincing the left they really don't, it should make for a fascinating recess.