Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jim DeMint's "Defund Obamacare" act greeted by protesters in Tampa

Heritage Action will spend more than $500,000 targeting 100 House Republicans with ads about defunding Obamacare.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Jim DeMint meets the press before Wednesday nights show in Tampa
  • Jim DeMint meets the press before Wednesday night's show in Tampa
On Wednesday, it was reported that UPS — one of the country's biggest employers — plans to drop health insurance coverage for about 15,000 working spouses of white-collar employees. In its memo, UPS said the coverage shift is a response to expenses from the 2010 Affordable Care Act and “the rising cost of health care in general.”

That's just a harbinger to come, said Jim DeMint, former Republican senator from South Carolina and the current president of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.

"This idea that this is going to actually help people get better health care is just completely false," DeMint said in a soft voice to a handful of reporters shortly before he spoke at the Crowne Plaza Tampa Westshore in front of more than 500 people. DeMint was on the third stop of a nine-city Heritage Action-sponsored tour that is all about why Obamacare has got to go (Heritage Action is the political arm of the foundation).

But he said contrary to what some other Republicans might want, Heritage wants the GOP-led House to fund the government in its entirety, with the exception of Obamacare.

DeMint said if the House did that, it would put pressure on President Obama to decide whether or not to have a government slowdown (not shutdown).

Heritage's health care policy expert Chris Jacobs said $48 billion in subsidies are slated to be paid out in fiscal year 2014 for the ACA. He said there are additional monies requested for the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS.

But the reality is that the Democratic-led Senate is not going to follow the House in defunding the law. So what's the real point?

"We wouldn't expect Harry Reid to necessarily take it up," DeMint admitted. "But if the House passed it and sent it to the Senate, it would give Republicans something to talk about that needs to be done, where the majority of Americans would be on their side."

Heritage has some high profile Republican supporters in the Senate, like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. But there are several others who think it's absurd, such as North Carolina's Richard Burr, who famously called it "the dumbest idea I've ever heard."

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Heritage Action will spend $550,000 targeting 100 House Republicans with online ads about defunding Obamacare.

"Republicans were given the majority in the House in 2010 with the promise that we'd do everything we could to stop the bill," DeMint said. "If this is not worth fighting for, then I don't know what is."

Meanwhile, as conservatives crowded into a ballroom to watch DeMint and Rafeal Cruz (Ted's dad) dole out some red meat, dozens of ACA supporters marched with signs in front of the Crowne Plaza hotel.

"We're here, primarily, to educate people," said Democratic party activist Jane Gibbons. "Obamacare is a good thing. It's a good thing for you, it's a good thing for me." She said she and her allies are doing "everything we can to spread the message" about the exchanges that will take place beginning in October.

"The states that have gone out of their way to implement Obamacare have already seen their costs go down," Gibbons continued. "It's just a shame that Florida is doing just the opposite, with our Legislature and governor going out of their way to make health care harder for Floridians to get."

"The Affordable Care Act opens up more choices for persons with disabilities, and seniors," said Karen Clay of Persons with Disabilities. Clay thinks the ACA's critics have issued a lot of misinformation about the law, similar, she said, to what happened when both Social Security and Medicare were introduced.

She said she'll continue to help educate the public about the law's benefits, but she wants to know what the "haters" of Obamacare get out of the discussion.

"Do you want seniors and people with disabilities in institutions? I don't," Clay said. She added that instead of having to go to nursing homes or more restricted environments, those people can receive their supports and services in their homes.

Ybor City resident Peter Horstmen said he may be eligible to sign up through the exchanges next year and he's a "classic example" of why Obamacare is crucial. He had health care coverage for more than 30 years provided by his employer, but then he was laid off during the recession. He paid for COBRA for awhile, but couldn't afford to keep up those payments once his unemployment benefits ran their course. The part time jobs he's picked up since then don't offer coverage, and he now has a pre-existing condition.

"At least now I will have options because the ACA requires that insurers provide affordable health care to people who have pre-existiing conditions," he said cheerfully on Wednesday night.

The Heritage Action Defund Obamacare Tour resumes Thursday night in Nashville.

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