The House Oversight Committee’s investigation into ObamaCare continued this week with an official congressional hearing far outside the Washington, D.C.,beltway. The Western Center for Journalism was present Friday as chairman Darrell Issa and three local legislators interviewed witnesses in Apache Junction, Ariz.
Issa explained the intention of this and other similar hearings across the U.S. is to expose the “unintended consequences of changes in the law,” explaining citizens “have a right to know what they’re getting from their government.”
Though these field hearings are designed to further a bipartisan investigation, he noted that “three out of three times my Democratic colleagues have declined” to participate.
During opening statements, Rep. Paul Gosar promoted a Republican-backed ObamaCare replacement program known as the American Healthcare Reform Plan, which he sold as “practical, pragmatic, and portable.” Leftists who claim conservatives are only bashing Obama’s policy proposals without presenting their own programs might want to study this and other reasonable healthcare solutions.
For his part, Rep. Trent Franks dissected ObamaCare using his constitutional expertise. When the Supreme Court upheld the law as a tax in 2010, he noted it did so in apparent violation of a clause dictating all taxation increases originate in the U.S. House. The governing body most closely accountable to the voting public, our founders concluded, would be more inclined to make sure such measures have constituent support.
“If senators can take any bill, strike its contents and raise taxes … then the origination clause is a dead letter,” he concluded.
Prescott, Ariz., resident Julie Dalton was the first to share her experiences with the law, explaining she purchased health coverage for her family in 2011 with the expectation that Obama would keep his promise.
“Our president assured us that if we had a plan we liked that we could keep it,” she said, “so we thought it was prudent to provide that for our family.”
Recently, however, she and millions of other Americans learned his word could not be trusted.
“Our agent called in October and informed us we were about to lose our plan,” she explained, noting that a comparable plan under ObamaCare mandates would increase her family’s monthly premium by 320 percent, or about $800.
Choking back tears, Dalton listed the various steps her family could take to absorb the added expense. Whether selling their home, both cars, getting a second and third job, cutting out visits to family, or suspending charitable giving, she concluded that “none of these options are workable.”
Diana Robinson of Chino Valley, Ariz., testified that she received a notice from her former provider, United Healthcare, informing her that her premiums would double under the new law’s mandates. In response, she shopped around and finally found a plan from Humana that she described as “barely affordable.”
After visiting HealthCare.gov and finally gaining access to the site’s features, she said she was “stunned” to find “premiums were well out of my budget — and that was for the ‘Bronze’ plan.”
Though she explained she is not interested in government handouts, Robinson said she was ultimately forced to apply for a subsidy “for something I didn’t want in the first place.”
Responding to the surge in part-time jobs as employers try to avoid the detrimental cost associated with providing coverage, she agreed with Rep. David Schweikert’s assessment that it would take three such jobs — two to provide a full salary and one to pay for coverage — to make up for one disappearing full-time position.
“I wish that Obama could be put in Kmart,” she said. “Let him see what real life is like because he obviously has no clue.”
California resident Dr. Steven Montgomery was in a unique position for two reasons. As a veterinarian and former hospital board member, he had an internal knowledge of the healthcare industry; and, his proximity to the Arizona border meant he regularly travels across state lines to see a doctor. If unable to continue receiving healthcare in Arizona, he noted, his commute to the nearest California practice would add 100 miles each way.
He said he has spent years contributing to a health savings plan, which has since been deemed incompatible with the unpopular law. Comparable plans, he noted, would cost him about $9,000 per year.
The government is “already deeply involved in health insurance,” Montgomery explained, adding ObamaCare is only exacerbating an already untenable situation.
Finally, Christie Hamman, a self-employed resident of Prescott, explained she has been self-insured for more than 30 years. After receiving a cancellation letter in September, she said her agent promised her new coverage would be better than her last.
Instead, she learned a comparable program would cost her more than $1,700 per month, or “equivalent to our house allowance.”
Lamenting that this “could be the first time in our lives we are uninsured,” Hamman said “we have worked hard to provide for our family and this is not playing out as we were promised.”
The misleadingly named Affordable Care Act, she concluded, “is proving quite unaffordable for us.”
She said that, after studying subsidy requirements, she realized that earning $6,000 less per year could translate into an $8,000 government payout for her. This is one of the most un-American — and least discussed — aspects of the law. By discouraging success and prosperity, leftists are promoting laziness and dependency instead of self-reliance and independence.
Of course, such a goal should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the socialist themes of this administration and, in a larger sense, the Democrat party over the past several decades.
While Friday’s witnesses were unanimously opposed to ObamaCare, a group of protesters made their support of the law known by interrupting the hearing with inappropriate outbursts. At least one heckler was removed from the venue, though advocates and opponents of the law were vocal in demonstrations outside.
ObamaCare proponent Dianne Nesvig claimed that, with the inclusion of birth control coverage and other mandates, the law marks “the first time women are equal to men.”
When asked her how she would respond to a business owner with a religious objection to financially supporting an employee’s abortion, she replied, “I think you can deal with it.”
Responding to the same question, Marjorie Reed said such coverage “should be a part of every woman’s health care.”
Though millions of Americans are fundamentally opposed to any form of abortion, these activists want to make sure everyone contributes to the annihilation of our next generation.
“Don’t tell me there’s not a war on women,” Reed concluded.
Though that particular phrase has been overused in recent months, one could easily make the argument that this administration is conducting its own war on religious freedom, personal responsibility, and the American Dream.
–B. Christopher Agee
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