In Washington, D.C., Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) issues countless press releases boasting about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, insisting that his constituents in North Carolina are clamoring for relief from the law. But during a town hall in Swannanoa on Wednesday, voters confronted the five-term Congressman with an entirely different sentiment: they demanded to know why Republicans would take away the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions without offering any credible other alternative for reforming the health care system. One grieving mother, who spoke to reporters before the event, said that her son was denied insurance because of a pre-existing health condition and eventually died of colon cancer.
These comments forced McHenry — who had repeatedly advocated for “full repeal” of Obamacare — to admit that he does support some of its most popular provisions:
[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. [...]
Edwards and others wondered why McHenry would vote against a plan they feel is better than nothing at all. He said he would not vote for something he feels is bad policy.
Watch the exchange:
McHenry did offer a prescription for insuring individuals with pre-existing conditions, suggesting that sicker people who are cherry picked out of coverage on the individual market, should enroll in high-risk pools. The comment elicited boos from the crowd, as the plans, which are only open to sick people, are usually “unaffordable, unavailable or ineffective for many of those who most need health insurance.” The Affordable Care Act included a temporary program that failed to attract enough applicants and several states have experimented with similar initiatives.
This post has been updated with a video of the exchange, via American Bridge.
McHenry also stresses the importance of encouraging young people to purchase health coverage, something Obamacare will try to accomplish through the individual mandate.