CREDIT: AP Images
Things got heated for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) during a town hall question-and-answer session in Winter Haven, Florida on Thursday. His constituents called him out over his multiple votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as well as misleading claims that the law’s consumer protections are being dismantled by the Obama administration.
Webster was responding to several constituents’ questions about the consequences that repealing Obamacare — which House Republicans, including Webster, have voted to do on 40 separate occasions — would have for the people in his district. Attendees asked Webster if he had any plans to replace consumer protections included in Obamacare, such as guaranteed insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions and free preventative health screenings for seniors:
QUESTIONER: What happens to us when Obamacare is repealed? What happens to people with pre-existing conditions that can’t get health care? What happens to those of us who finally have access to health insurance for the first time in nine or ten years? What happens to us? And you want to make this local, I’ll make this local. I’m a constituent, right now I can’t get health care. I’m waiting for this [insurance marketplace] to open and I’d like to know why we keep repealing [Obamacare]?
The congressman defended his repeal votes by saying the law would drive up Americans’ health care costs by requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. He then claimed that President Barack Obama himself thinks his signature law is unworkable. As evidence, Webster implied that the law’s protections — such as its cap on consumers’ annual out-of-pocket medical costs — were being dismantled by the Obama administration. That prompted an outcry from the audience, as people booed and countered Webster’s claims.
An event official interrupted at that point, asking the audience to be respectful and give Webster a chance to speak. One audience member replied by saying, “Well, tell him to stop lying!”
Watch it, courtesy of advocacy group Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and its local Florida partner Organize Now:
The Obama administration did, in fact, delay the health law’s cap on Americans’ out-of-pocket costs through their co-payments and deductibles. But as the audience correctly pointed out, it is a temporary one-year delay that only applies to certain employer-based insurance plans. The cap still applies for health policies sold through Obamacare’s statewide marketplaces beginning in October.
Webster isn’t the first GOP congressman to get flak from his constituents over his opposition to the health law. Last week, constituents confronted Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) over his many votes to repeal Obamacare and asked why he wanted to take away protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. One grieving mother in the audience had told reporters before the town hall that her own son had died of colon cancer after being denied coverage for having a pre-existing condition.
Obamacare critics who have incessantly demonized the reform law and pushed for its repeal have been brushing up against a growing number of people that support its consumer protections. A recent poll from the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm that was ostensibly meant to show Obamacare’s unpopularity by over-surveying Republicans inadvertently showed that it is actually popular. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted that a “handful of things” in the law are “probably OK” in an interview on Wednesday.