Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, going so far as to sign onto a letter threatening a government shutdown unless Congress votes to defund the law. But during a town hall in Hammond, Louisiana, the two-term senator took a much more conciliatory tone, encouraging constituents to call his office with questions about enrolling in coverage starting on October 1:
Q: Is your office going to help constituents who might simply want to buy insurance?
VITTER: Well, we’re helping folks in any way we can trying to get them good information… We field calls every day in my offices in Louisiana trying to help people with individual questions and circumstances and I would encourage folks to call my office to get that guidance and help.
As recently as Friday, however, Vitter’s Washington office issued a press release blasting a new rule allowing Congressional staff and members who sign up for insurance through the exchanges to maintain their government health contributions, calling it a “behind-closed-doors deal.” “This is exactly why America rightly hates Washington. Obamacare’s a train wreck, even for Congress,” he said in a press release. “So it gets fixed . . . FOR CONGRESS ONLY. What the flip about fixing it for America?”
While a small group of Republicans have indicated they will use any means necessary to sabotage Obamacare’s implementation, even if that means ignoring constituents who come to their office with questions about how the new law can help them, most members are conceding that they will help their constituents enroll in coverage. During a recent town hall in Racine, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also told constituents that “Anybody [who] has a problem with the federal government we’re going to help them because that’s my job.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has decided that the state would not build an exchange, allowing the federal government to “assume full responsibility for running a health insurance exchange in Louisiana beginning in 2014.”