U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch cast conservative House members now calling for the defunding of “Obamacare” as political opportunists who are willing to stop Social Security checks and military pay just to score political points.
Speaking before an audience of 150 people at John I. Leonard High School, Deutch, D-Boca Raton, used much of his summer town hall meeting Wednesday night to lambaste House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for allowing a minority in the Republican Party to block progress on everything from infrastructure to background checks at gun shows.
He laid responsibility for a possible government shutdown on Boehner’s delayed appointment of a conference committee to finalize the federal budget.
“The House has voted now 40 times on Obamacare,” Deutch said. “It shows a lack of willingness to work on the real issues of this country.”
The town hall elicited occasional bursts of applause and yelled gripes from audience members, but was mostly conflict-free as Deutch relied on written questions, and kept the microphone to himself. Time after time, the questions on the card asked why members of Congress were exempt from “Obamacare.”
Deutch told them that was misinformation, and he’d be obtaining his insurance through the exchanges, too.
In the audience, Debra Morgan heckled. The Lake Worth accountant said later said she didn’t believe him.
“I’m not going to buy health insurance,” she said. “Why do taxes get raised in it? What does that have to do with health care? Defund it. Defund Obamacare.”
A new poll suggests that Morgan is in the minority.
While many Americans continue to view health reform as a glass half-empty, they don’t want Congress to shatter it, the poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation Wednesday found.
The poll of 1,503 adults found 42 percent expressing an unfavorable view of the Obama administration’s health law.
But a clear majority, 57 percent, said they disapprove of defunding as a tactic to prevent its implementation.
“The single biggest thing we can do to restore economic growth, to bring jobs back, is to defund Obamacare,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told CNN on Tuesday. “Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country.”
Cruz wants Congress to pass a continuing resolution that funds every aspect of the budget except “Obamacare.”
“We do not have the votes right now,” he said on CNN on Tuesday. “We need 41 votes in the Senate, 218 votes in the house.”
He said he hoped a September “grassroots tsunami” would persuade the holdouts, but the Kaiser poll, conducted by Princeton Data Source Aug. 13-19, suggested otherwise.
A third of people who identified themselves as Republicans opposed the defunding tactic, the Kaiser poll found.
The poll also found an information gap lingers on what the public knows about the law.
The sign-up period for new health reform policies is coming quickly, beginning Oct. 1, less than five weeks away.
Deutch focused on the practical aspects of how consumers will buy their health insurance, if they don’t have it from their employer, through the online marketplace at http://healthcare.gov .
There, they will be able to apply for subsidies as well.
People who have been buying on the individual market, especially people with health problems, should see big reductions in their health premiums, because of new insurance regulations barring the setting of rates according to pre-existing health conditions, Deutch said.
It appears that 9 out of 10 people buying their insurance through the exchange will qualify for a subsidy of some sort, said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
‘“We’ve estimated that most people will pay less next year because of subsidies or because of market reforms,” Tolbert said.
Tolbert predicted that consumers in states like Florida will find the sign-up process a bit more of a headache than those in states running their own exchanges, because Florida didn’t take the generous enrollment incentives that other states are now using to spread the word about how to enroll.
Insurance becomes mandatory next year. People who go uninsured for more than three months will face a penalty of $99 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater.
Florida is one of 27 states that decided to let the federal government create and run its insurance exchange.
Deutch criticized the Florida Legislature for leaving 1 million uninsured Floridians without coverage by refusing to expand Medicaid.
“The goal of the Affordable Care Act is to make sure that the uninsured have access to affordable health care,” he said. “I’m forever hopeful that the governor and the legislature will take that step.”